Our State Government Must Work for ALL New Yorkers

The economic “recovery” from the 2008 Financial Crisis and subsequent Great Recession has left most New Yorkers behind — it’s time to end extreme inequality with a bold new approach.

New York is one of the wealthiest states in the nation. But instead of economic fairness, many of our state government policies benefit billionaires and the super rich, while impoverished, low-resource,tax-burdened communities in every part of the state are left to pick up the tab.

At the same time, the politics of fear, resentment, hate and division attempt to divide us along ethnic, racial, gender lines, rural vs. suburban vs. city, upstate vs. downstate, red versus blue.

New York has an opportunity starting in 2019 to forge a new and better way forward — one that firmly rejects the politics of manufactured scarcity, fear, and division, embracing instead a politics of shared abundance, fairness, equity, respect, and cooperation.

Together as one state, we need a new budgeting approach which enables all New Yorkers in every part of the state to contribute and thrive, not just a few.


Time For A Bottom-UP Strategy!

We need to invest in a bottom-up growth strategy that will benefit all New Yorkers, including those who have been left behind in this economic recovery. We call on our elected and public officials to embrace the following principles:

Fight Poverty and Racism — Invest in Early Learning, Public and Higher Education, Healthcare & Local Communities

It’s time to invest in ending poverty, fairly and fully funding our child and elder care, public schools, colleges & universities, housing the homeless, providing healthcare for ALL, feeding the hungry and ensuring a fair criminal justice system for ALL New Yorkers.

Far too many New York children, elderly, urban and rural residents are living in poverty – our youngest children are actually those most likely to live in poverty. Immigrants and their families have been too often left out of the prosperity and wealth of our state.

We have the resources to address these issues now — we just need the political and moral will and leadership to do so.


Reduce Inequality — Tax the Wealthy and Wall Street, Not Working and Middle-Class New Yorkers

To make our tax systems fairer, we need to adjust our income tax brackets to reflect the explosion of wealth at the very top.

Economic analysts from all ideological perspectives agree that the income and wealth of multi-millionaires and billionaires have dramatically increased in the last thirty years, but our state income tax brackets haven’t moved much at all.

We not only need to renew our Millionaires Tax — we need to expand it. We should ensure Wall Street pays its fair share by closing the carried interest tax loophole and passing a stock buyback recapture tax on huge corporations that pass their federal tax breaks to the wealthy instead of creating new jobs or raising pay. We should also seek to pass the stock transfer tax.

In addition, tax policies that support working families should be strengthened and expanded. These include the State Earned Income Tax Credit, Empire State Child Credit, and Child and Dependent Care Credit.


Austerity Won’t Bring Prosperity — Spending Caps Are Not Progressive or Effective

Austerity was never a good approach to meeting the needs of regular New Yorkers — and now it’s stretched beyond the limits of reason.

State government leaders have continued to impose a two-percent-per-year state spending growth cap even as the incomes of the wealthy have soared and the needs of the poor and middle class have exploded. Economic indicators and the cost of living have both risen faster than two percent in recent years.

The spending growth cap needs to be lifted and increased costs need to be borne by Wall Street, large corporations, and the very rich — not farmers and child care providers, not rural and urban school districts, not working- and middle-class property owners, and not the poor.

Fix State and Local Tax Structure

We must acknowledge that our state and local tax systems are broken, that they need to be modernized, and that working- and middle-class homeowners struggling to pay their rent and/or property taxes need relief.

Local and county governments shouldn’t have to struggle with the burden of Medicaid costs that most states cover with statewide tax revenues.

And the wide variation in wealth and resources in our state could be balanced with effective revenue-sharing policies to reduce poverty and reduce the tax burdens of seniors and working and middle-class homeowners.


Protect our Environment and Deal with Climate Crisis

We need to invest in clean energy infrastructure to reduce reliance on dirty fossil fuels, create good-paying jobs, and reduce the cost burden on energy consumers. We support passage of the Climate and Community Protection Act and divestment of fossil fuel stocks in the state pension fund.


Strengthen Our Democracy

The pay-to-play scandals that have rocked Albany seem to have no end. Huge campaign contributions give the wealthy and corporations political access that locks in profound inequality — instead of the bottom-up investments that will benefit all New Yorkers.

We need serious campaign finance reforms and economic development accountability measures to rebuild public trust in our government, including a small-donor matching funds system that puts people back at the center of our politics, voting rights reforms and economic development accountability measures that will give regular New Yorkers some assurance that Albany can work for them.

A Call to Action

Now is not the time for timidity. Now is the time for our elected officials to take a bold new approach that will benefit all New Yorkers and ensure no one in our prosperous state is left behind.

New York has always been a beacon of hope. The Statue of Liberty stands tall in the harbor of our largest city. Our state has the resources and the ability to show the country how to stop runaway inequality and build an economy that works for low- and middle-income families, celebrate diversity, protect each other, and give a helping hand to those in need.

We have the leadership and the know-how to get this done. Now we need the political will and moral commitment.

We have faith that the new year will bring new hope for all New Yorkers — especially low-income and working-class families, immigrants and people of color, and other marginalized groups. Let New York lead the way!