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November 12th, 2008
Groups Providing Critical State Services Call on
Together the two coalitions represent more than 200 non-profit organizations, faith-based groups, service providers and unions that supply front line services to many of
The groups called on Paterson to use the Tax Stabilization Reserve Fund (a “Rainy Day Fund” that currently has $1.039 billion) to bridge the mid-year budget gap, to wait for a state fiscal relief package from Washington before making massive cuts in services, and to ask the wealthiest New Yorkers to take part in the “shared sacrifice as we did in 2003.
“Today, more than ever before, the economic crisis has placed a great burden on the average
“The Pubic Employees Federation (PEF) had identified several options to help close the budget gaps that will avoid layoffs and damaging cuts to public services,” said PEF President Ken Brynien. “In this fiscal crisis it is more important than ever to make sure
“The Governor’s notion of shared sacrifice seems to leave the wealthiest New Yorkers out of the equation, stated Ron Deutsch, executive director, New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness. “This is very strange since the Governor believed in a balanced approach to closing the budget deficit in 2003, when he voted to raise taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers rather than slash funding for programs and services to those most in need of state assistance. During that time, then-Senate Minority Leader
The tax increases put in place in 2003 did not have the negative impact on the state’s economy, or on the number of high-income taxpayers in the state, that Governor Pataki predicted in vetoing the Legislature’s budget bills. In fact, the number of high-income returns grew steadily from about 245,000 in 2002 to an estimated 430,000 in 2007, and employment in the state increased each year that the temporary surcharge was in place. The wealthiest New Yorkers (over $200,000) also saw there incomes increase 108% between 2003-2008 (those below $200,000 only saw an increase of 15% over the same time period).
“New Yorkers can’t afford mid-year cuts to education and health care. We need to follow President-elect Obama’s lead, and address the fiscal crisis by asking the wealthiest New Yorkers to pay their fair share,” Karen Scharff, executive director, Citizen Action of NYS.
“In difficult economic times, when tough decisions need to be made about how to close deficits, we must always be guided by the principle that the state not balance the budget on the backs of those most in need,” said Richard E. Barnes, executive director of the Catholic Conference. “While the Catholic Conference has not taken a position on which revenue streams should be tapped, it is clear that the options being presented must be considered. We are here to stress the importance of keeping in mind that those who have no voice – the very poor and vulnerable – are most in need of the state’s limited resources. Put simply, those who need the most help should be last in line for cuts.”
“We are calling on Governor Paterson and legislative leaders to recognize what a mistake it would be to cut critical programs any further. Programs like civil legal services for the poor are part of our state’s social safety net and have already been cut by over 50% this year. Civil legal services are essential in saving the state money by averting crisis – helping obtain unemployment benefits, avoid homelessness and ensure access to basic needs supports like food stamps. Further cuts would be both financially and socially irresponsible,” said Anne Erickson, president & CEO of
“Medicaid provides a lifeline for low-income New Yorkers and it must be protected. The state should not be attempting to cut its way out of this crisis by putting the health care safety net in jeopardy. We must continue the ‘patient-first’ health care agenda, and more wisely spend our health care dollars. Medicaid is not just about hospitals, it is first and foremost about people,” stated Lara Kassel, advocacy coordinator, Medicaid Matters NY.
“The Wall Street Meltdown was not created by working men and women and they must not be forced to bear the burnt of
Joseph Stiglitz, winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics (recently appointed chairman of the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors), explains in his March 2008 letter to Governor Paterson and Legislative leaders that an increase in the tax on the portions of families’ incomes over some relatively high level is the least damaging mechanism for balancing state budgets during recessions. In contrast, cuts in government spending on goods and services that are produced locally (like education and health care) and cuts in transfer payments to lower-income families are most damaging to the economy, as they come closest to taking dollar for dollar out of the local economy.