Austerity is not the answer now, Gov. Cuomo: To fund essential services, the new state budget must ask the wealthy to pay more
As proud New Yorkers, we’ve endured hard times and, like you, we’re adjusting to our new reality. While coordinating COVID-19 resources for more than 300,000 constituents in each of our Senate districts, we are fighting to finalize a fair and humane state budget by April 1 that protects every New Yorker. We prioritize people’s health and wellbeing. That is why we strongly oppose the governor’s attempt to increase the cost-sharing burden for localities and his proposed billions of dollars in cuts to healthcare funding. These cuts will directly impact our Medicaid program, which covers one in three New Yorkers. With our hospitals and health-care providers at the epicenter of this pandemic, they are weeks, if not days, away from their maximum capacity. We must support the doctors, nurses and other health-care professionals working to save lives by upholding our commitment to the patients and facilities that serve them, which need all the resources we can give. Our obligations extend further. Educators are rising to the challenge of remote learning, despite being hobbled by a lack of funding predating COVID-19. Our state’s schoolchildren are owed nearly $4 billion in school aid. We must fully fund Foundation Aid, as the state Board of Regents has asked, to support our heroic teachers and school staff and ensure educational equity in working-class neighborhoods, particularly communities of color. Our SUNY and CUNY systems alike desperately need a funding infusion to maintain high standards and functioning campuses. If we care about building a bright future for the next generation of New Yorkers in every zip code, we must invest in their education now and fill these major budget gaps. How can we address these urgent challenges? In this daunting moment, we must ask our wealthiest neighbors to step up. We can meet the needs of all New Yorkers by asking the wealthiest residents to pay a tiny increase in their taxes. Just pennies on the dollar from our state’s 50,000 multi-millionaires could generate $4 billion in new revenue statewide. Some say a slight increase in taxes will drive the wealthy out of New York. We are confident they will stay for all the reasons they chose to call New York home in the first place. As leaders, we face a choice. We can agree to a draconian, bare-bones, budget that raises no new revenue, sets back our efforts to fight the coronavirus, injures our healthcare system, and weakens our schools. Instead, we can ask New York’s millionaires and billionaires to chip in what they can easily afford and put us back on the road to stability. We urge our colleagues to join the effort to raise new revenue, to protect our present and our future, and to meet the needs of the communities we serve. We know that we will only get through this global crisis if we work together and each does our part. It’s time for the wealthiest to pay their fair share. New York depends on it. By Gustavo Rivera, Alessandra Biaggi and Robert Jackson
Rivera represents East Tremont, Fordham and other parts of the Bronx, Jackson represents parts of Manhattan and Biaggi represents parts of the Bronx and Westchester in the state Senate.