Nov. 20, 2018

NEW POLITICS, NEW ACTION, NEW BUDGET, NEW HOPE

FOR ALL OF NEW YORK

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

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-resourced,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 the 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 has 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 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!

 

NEW POLITICS, NEW ACTION, NEW BUDGET, NEW HOPE

FOR ALL OF NEW YORK

 

FULL PROPOSAL

 

Our State Government Must Work for All New Yorkers

 

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.

 

As a result, New York now has the worst inequality of any state, period. Our state is a place where the vast majority lives paycheck to paycheck, millions live in poverty, most homeowners struggle to pay their property taxes and a tiny few enjoy unimaginable, lavish and excessive wealth.

 

While wealthy political donors continue to give more and more campaign cash to warp our government towards policies that enrich them, millions of working-class families struggle.

 

While the global business elite enjoy multi-million-dollar luxury apartments and oceanfront mansions, over 88,000 homeless New Yorkers are homeless, yearning for a bed.

 

While billionaires and CEOs pay thousands of dollars for lavish meals and wines in posh Manhattan restaurants, three million hungry New Yorkers suffer from food insecurity, depending on assistance from public and private sources.

 

While huge corporations are showered with billions of dollars in subsidies and tax breaks, half of the children in our biggest Upstate cities live in poverty.

 

Ten years after the financial meltdown, the majority of income gains in New York have gone to the wealthiest among us.

 

It’s time for Governor Cuomo and state legislators to focus their attention on helping those who need the most help — and that’s not the billionaires and CEOs.

 

The top priority of state government should be improving the lives of working New Yorkers and those in need.

 

And it’s crucial that lawmakers find a fair way to fund important new initiatives that won’t hit working- and middle-class homeowners. It’s time to end the taxpayer subsidies for the very rich, and to start building economic fairness for New York.

 

Geographic and Demographic Division Benefits Wealthy Special Interests

 

A new approach to state government would abandon artificial divisions between working people living in different parts of our state and focus on effective investments in public goods and fighting poverty that will benefit all of us.

 

“Albany shorthand” often blurs the reality of common interests that unite low-income and working people all across our state and covers the tracks of those who created and benefit from ineffective state government policies.

 

Our property tax crisis was created by Republican and Democratic lawmakers who cut taxes on the wealthy in well-resourced communities, cut revenue sharing to local communities, and pushed the costs of government services onto county governments in the 1990s.

 

Much of our Upstate/Downstate divide was caused by corporate disinvestment and deindustrialization over the past 30 years, often driven by greedy Wall Street hedge fund and private equity managers who put their own profits first and the impact on our communities last.

 

Our housing crisis was created by wealthy real estate interests who manipulated state lawmakers from both parties to hurt tenants, renters and working and middle-class homeowners.

 

Our education funding crisis, our continued struggle with the prison-industrial complex, our homeless crisis, our water-quality and environmental crises, and our profound struggle with endemic poverty have their roots in the decades-long politics of racial division, economic redlining and white supremacy.

 

The fact is that we need policies that will benefit all New Yorkers — Black, Latino, White, Asian and Native.

 

We need policies that will benefit all New Yorkers — whether we’re upstate or downstate, whether we live in suburbs, rural communities or in big cities.

 

All New Yorkers deserve great public schools, affordable quality healthcare and housing, clean water and a safe environment, a good transportation system, fair policing, fair taxes and good jobs. And no New Yorker should live in poverty in one of the wealthiest states in the nation.

 

To achieve these goals, we must require Wall Street, the wealthy and the biggest corporations to pay their fair share in taxes by closing their loopholes and modernizing our tax system. And we’ll need to clean out the corrupt and wasteful public subsidies that pit business-against business and community-against-community.

 

We can do a whole lot better than we’ve done before — but we need a new approach.

 

Almost Half of New Yorkers Can’t Afford the Basics — Communities of Color Hit Hardest

 

Despite an overall improvement in employment and gains in median household income, the economic recovery in New York State has been wildly uneven, according to an updated report released by United Way of New York State.

 

The 2018 ALICE Report details how a large number of New Yorkers — 3.2 million households, or 45% of the overall population — cannot afford basic needs and lack sufficient income and resources to pay for housing, food, child care, transportation and health care.

 

Many of the people being left behind are people of color. The income of the median white family in New York is almost double that of African American and Hispanic families. Black and Hispanic families are twice as likely to be low-income. Structural and institutional racism and xenophobia have resulted in people of color facing major barriers in employment, housing, public education, health care, social services, and criminal justice.

 

As we move towards new approaches in state government, we must examine each and every government policy for explicit or implicit biases and work instead for true racial and economic justice.

 

It’s Time to Meet the Needs of Rural and Exurban Communities

 

Longtime education funding practices in our state have significantly under-funded rural school districts. Health care spending cuts and unfettered market consolidation can destabilize or close rural hospitals and health networks. Economic development initiatives are often just plain insensitive to and under-informed about what really works for rural and exurban communities. Public services and transportation are less available in exurban and rural areas and underfunded.

 

State government’s refusal to assume responsibility for real costs like Medicaid or fair education funding means hard-pressed rural county governments have been pushed to load extra tax burdens on homeowners and also on renters (in the form of higher rent to help landlords pay their tax bills).

 

Too many politicians don’t represent the interests of their rural constituencies because they’re beholden to the campaign donors from big real estate, private charter school, and other interests which have little understanding of rural communities.

 

Rural areas and small towns need smarter infrastructure investment, state-of-the-art broadband, housing and community renewal — and we need small-d democracy that connects with farmers, farmworkers and rural residents and works to meet their needs.

 

Our Tax Systems Are Broken — It’s Time for Updated Policies That Are More Fair

 

We also must acknowledge our state and local tax systems are broken, that they need to be modernized, and that we need to provide relief to residents struggling to pay their rent and/or property taxes.

 

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-class homeowners.

 

To make our tax systems fairer, we’ll 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 the wealth of multi-millionaires and billionaires has dramatically increased in the last thirty years, but our state income tax brackets haven’t moved much at all.

 

This small number of super-rich New Yorkers also got the biggest benefits from the new federal “tax scam” law, with dramatically reduced federal income and inheritance taxes. Meanwhile, millions of middle-class New Yorkers lost important federal deductions they really needed.

 

If we address our state and local tax systems with a clear-eyed, reality-based perspective, we can help working and middle-class New Yorkers all across our state. We can ameliorate the harsh impact of the new federal “tax scam” law — and we can do it simply by taking back some of the new benefits the GOP Congress gave to multi-millionaires and billionaires and large corporations.

 

In addition, tax policies that support working families, and make low-wage workers’ paychecks stretch further, should be strengthened and expanded. These include the State Earned Income Tax Credit, Empire State Child Credit, and Child and Dependent Care Credit.

 

It’s Time For Economic Development Investments in Public Goods That Benefit All of Us

 

Spending billions of dollars on taxpayer subsidies to for-profit corporations doesn’t make longterm sense as an economic development strategy.

 

A better, smarter, more cost-effective move would be to invest our money in public goods like education, infrastructure, social services, and healthcare that benefit all businesses.

 

New York state government should move forward with new investments in early education, K-12 public schools, community colleges and public universities that will make sure all employers can hire a well-educated and well-prepared workforce.

 

Statewide investments in clean energy, clean water, public and affordable housing, healthcare and public transportation infrastructure will make our state more competitive with other locations in the US and around the world in the competition for new businesses — and these investments will help our own home-grown businesses do better as well.

 

For example, New York’s best-in-the-nation public health insurance could be made available to all businesses, large and small, as part of a coming transition to real universal healthcare for all residents. A high-quality and reliable public health insurance program available to all New Yorkers would relieve businesses of the burden of high insurance costs, making New York a magnet for start-ups and growing enterprises.

 

Statewide investments in public goods would also offer real advantages to small businesses and start-ups in rural and exurban areas of the state. Combined with fairer tax policies and new investment, these policies will strengthen the healthcare and education institutions that are the foundation of employment in many areas of the state and help spread prosperity from high-wealth urban areas to all New Yorkers.

 

Austerity Won’t Bring Prosperity — Spending Caps Are NOT PROGRESSIVE

 

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

 

Year-after-year these caps have gone beyond efficiencies to actual cuts and reduction in services at many state agencies and human services agencies. Further cuts will cripple operations and lower output quality. At the same time, economic, environmental and political changes have resulted in new challenges for state agencies, authorities and not-for-profit groups.

 

For example, New York’s Medicaid program has seen little, if any, new investment since its global cap was put in place in 2011. While the state has allocated billions of dollars to large hospital-centric health care systems through delivery system reform programs, spending has lessened in other areas to ensure access to home and community-based services, particularly in the area of long-term care.

 

The 2% state spending growth cap is not evenly applied. It imposes unnecessary austerity on programs for the poor and middle class while allowing unchecked and corruption riddled economic development projects to grow every year.

 

The cap needs to be lifted and the increased costs need to be born by the very rich – not farmers, not rural and urban school districts, not working- and middle-class property owners, and not the poor.

 

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 ask our elected officials to embrace the following principles:

 

Fight Poverty and Racism — Invest in Child and Elder Care, Public and Higher Education, Health Care, and Local Communities

 

It’s time to invest in ending poverty, fairly funding our public schools, housing the homeless, feeding the hungry, providing universal health care and ensuring a fair criminal justice system for ALL New Yorkers. Far too many of our children, elderly and urban and rural residents are living in poverty. We have the resources to address these issues now — we just need the political and moral will 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’ll 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 the wealth of multi-millionaires and billionaires has 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 make Wall Street pay 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.

 

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.

 

Meeting Needs of Rural and Exurban Communities

 

Because of education funding formulas, we significantly under-fund rural school districts. Health care spending cuts and unfettered market consolidation destabilizes or closes rural hospitals and health networks. Economic development initiatives are often just plain insensitive to and under-informed about what really works for rural and exurban communities. Public services and transportation are less available in exurban and rural areas and underfunded.

 

State government must assume responsibility for real costs like Medicaid and fair education funding to relieve tax burden on rural county governments and homeowners and renters. Rural areas and small towns need smarter infrastructure investment, state-of-the-art broadband, housing and community renewal — and we need small-d democracy that connects with farmers farmworkers and rural residents and works to meet their needs. We need to confer with rural areas about economic and farming development approaches which will be genuinely helpful.

 

The full democracy agendas lifted up by the Let NY Vote campaign and the Fair Elections for NY coalition will help make budgets and economics in New York fairer and more likely to benefit the vast majority of New Yorkers.

 

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. The cap needs to be lifted and the increased costs need to be borne by Wall Street, large corporations, and the very rich — not farmers, 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 we need to provide relief to working- and middle-class residents struggling to pay their rent and/or property taxes.

 

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 should be balanced with effective revenue-sharing policies to reduce poverty and reduce the tax burdens of seniors and working-class 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 cost burden on energy consumers.

 

We support passage of the Climate and Community Protection Act which invests in clean energy infrastructure and communities which have been disproportionately affected by various forms of environmental degradation like poisoned water, bomb train traffic, and ground and air toxins.

 

We also support divestment of fossil fuel stocks in the state pension fund and encourage investment in companies which lead us toward a clean energy future.

 

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 that include a small donor matching funds system that puts people back at the center of our politics, voting rights reforms and economic development accountability measures to rebuild public trust in our government.

 

As a budget coalition, it’s clear to us that the only way to beat the concentrated power of big money and wealth is with people power — we need a stronger democracy and more public participation.