Saturday, January 25, 2014

NY Governor’s Budget Proposal a Bitter Pill

The NYS Budget focus from the Executive Branch for the upcoming fiscal year will once again benefit wealthy New Yorkers at the expense of hard working middle class families who need vital essential services. photo: Ove Overmyer
New York State-- Let’s get some facts straight-- New York State has the worst income inequality in the nation. It is hurting our working families and our local communities. After our initial reading of the new budget document, it astounds us that we are not taking the opportunity to properly address some of the biggest challenges of the day. We repeat, when nearly half of New Yorkers are at or near the poverty line, why is Governor Cuomo proposing a gigantic $2 billion tax relief for the richest New Yorkers? Could it be that 2014 is an election year?

If budget proposals are moral documents, Governor Cuomo has proven that his amoral priorities should be vociferously challenged. This budget tells most New Yorkers that better days are not ahead—unless you are privileged and wealthy. New York needs and deserves a fair state budget.

Simply put, Gov. Cuomo’s tax break centerpiece of his unethical 2014-15 budget plan does very little to address the biggest problems facing New Yorkers-- chronic long-term unemployment, poverty and income inequality. This budget does not reflect the best interest and common good of all New Yorkers and will compromise what little quality of life we have built for our local communities.

Instead of providing additional aid to local governments, the Executive Budget “incentivizes” local governments to consolidate and share services. The budget would provide a two-year property tax freeze for homeowners living in jurisdictions that abide by the two percent property tax cap in the first year, and agree to implement an efficiency plan for the second year.

In order for homeowners to get the tax credit in the second year, school districts and local governments must continue to stay within the cap and must consolidate or share services to create savings equal to one percent of the tax levy in 2016-17, two percent in 2017-18, and three percent in 2018-19.

Other recommendations include a property tax “Circuit Breaker” for households earning up to $200,000, a personal income tax credit for renters (which we find completely patronizing to working families), a 20 percent real property tax credit for New York manufacturers, completely eliminating corporate income taxes for upstate manufacturers, increasing the Estate Tax threshold from $1 million to $5.25 million and lowering the top rate over four years, and lowering the corporate income tax rate.

These reforms will take billions of dollars away from state revenues, that ironically, mostly benefit the rich and multi-national corporations doing business in New York State. 

This budget should be about ensuring the economic survival of our local communities. The residents of New York have a choice. Either we make decisions that will either continue the loss of decent middle-class jobs which will decimate public services throughout the state or we can invest in jobs in our communities that pay a decent living-wage that provide quality services that people depend on everyday.  

Simply put, we need our elected leaders to create a budget and enact policies that lift up all New Yorkers and build new ladders to the middle class. The last thing we need is to provide more tax cuts to the uber rich while working families continue to lose hope in their elected officials. No economy can prosper without strong consumer-based middle class priorities.

AFSCME / CSEA Lobby Day is March 4, 2014. Get on the bus and tell your elected officials we need a New York that grows our economy from the bottom up by creating jobs and investing in our public services.
If you are an AFSCME or CSEA member and live in WNY, please call our Region Office at 1.716.691.6555 to reserve your seat today. Your local community is counting on you to speak for those who can’t or won’t represent themselves in the political arena.

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