Progressive Democrats Issue Open Letter to Cuomo
March 7, 2011
By Robert Jackson, NYC Counsil Member
Dear Fellow Democrats:
We are writing to express concerns about the direction of our party and our state. As we all know, New York faces serious fiscal problems. We all understand that difficult decisions must be made. As loyal Democrats, we believe that protecting children, seniors, working families and our communities must always be a priority.
But the truth in Albany right now is that some of Governor Cuomo's budget policies are neither balanced nor well conceived:
The Governor would make deep cuts in education funding, by abandoning the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case the hard-won victory that is supposed to ensure fairness in the distribution of school aid and give all children a sound basic education. Furthermore, the Governor would slash health care spending, eliminating prescription drug coverage for two thirds of our seniors through the EPIC program, a program which so many seniors rely on.
At the same time the Governor is taking these and other drastic actions, he wants to give the richest three percent of New Yorkers a massive tax break by allowing the expiration of the "Millionaire's Tax", a tax that would generate $5 billion annually.
According to the Governor, this is what it means to be a "new Democrat." According to the Governor, this is the path to becoming "the most progressive state in the nation."
If this is what it means to be a New Democrat, and if this is what it means to be progressive then something is very wrong. We cannot be silent on this matter not when the Tea Party, the Conservative Party, Republicans and a group of wealthy Wall Street executives are cheering the Governor's policies. Of course, as we want the new Governor to succeed, we also recognize our duty and obligation to remember what our party has always stood for: fiscal responsibility, fairness, compassion and vision.
We have a duty and responsibility to speak out now. To us, the answer is simple. Were it not for the proposed tax break for millionaires worth $5 billion annually our fiscal problems would be much less severe. We would still need to reduce spending, but we could lessen the severity of the cuts this year and even more so next year.
We ask that you join us in urging Governor Cuomo and our state lawmakers to extend the existing millionaire's tax as a way of avoiding drastic cuts to schools and health facilities. It is imperative that we protect children and seniors, not