True Blue NY Grassroots Coalition Statement On The 2019–2020 New York State Budget
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 31st, 2019
In response to the final 2019–2020 New York State budget, the True Blue NY Grassroots Coalition released the following statement:
While Governor Cuomo has already begun his victory lap on a budget he claims fulfills his priorities for New York, communities across the state are left wondering what happened to theirs.
Despite a fast start to the legislative session and expressions of optimism from a newly elected Democratic trifecta entering the budget season, New Yorkers will wake up tomorrow wondering how the richest state in the country, run by so-called progressive leadership, could once again put forth a budget that leaves basic functions like public schooling and services to avert homelessness and mitigate economic inequality woefully underfunded.
The 2019–2020 budget introduces no new funding to reduce the record levels of homelesness and poverty in our state. And despite both the Assembly and Senate putting forth plans to fully provide our public schools with $1.2 billion of the $4.1 billion still owed them to redress systemic inequity, as mandated by our highest court, the budget offers a mere $50 million increase over last year, when Republicans controlled the Senate.
The governor has spun a narrative of scarcity throughout the budgetary process that the legislature has failed to challenge. But New Yorkers won’t be fooled. The governor’s unilaterally imposed 2% spending cap, combined with the legislative leadership’s unwillingness to fight this austerity mindset by pushing to raise additional revenue from the ultra-rich, was a deathblow to a fair and equitable budget.
By refusing to capitalize on popular support for new sources of revenue from an Ultra-Millionaires Tax ($2.3B/yr), a Pied-a-Terre Tax ($650M/yr), or a Carried Interest Fairness Fee ($3.5B/yr), Democratic leadership proved that the influence of the wealthiest New Yorkers continues to have a stranglehold on Albany.
The sharpest proof of the outsized influence of big money in our politics: the failure to enact a 6-to-1 small-donor-matched public financing system in the budget, despite the support of 78% of New Yorkers for such a measure, ample research backing it, the Senate Majority claiming full support, 88 Assembly Members on the record for past support, and Governor Cuomo declaring it “a line in the sand.” No matter how Governor Cuomo, Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, or Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie or the rest of the legislature spins it, the endcreation of a “binding commission” to study the issue further, with implementation in some unspecified form no earlier than 2022, is not a great victory; it is a full-on punt.
We applaud the Democratic leadership for making inroads in other core areas of the budget. With the passage of congestion pricing and progress toward long-overdue criminal justice reform, it’s clear that the ability to solve complex challenges exists. But does the will — and the courage — to create basic fairness? As long as only the wealthiest New Yorkers continue to benefit from the lion’s share of our state’s economic gains, and our communities go unheard and underserved, the simple question remains: If budgets are about priorities, whose priorities do our leaders serve?
Empire State Indivisible is part of the national Indivisible movement and the True Blue NY Grassroots Coalition. We are committed to defend New York against the Trump administration and those who enable its policies.
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