The assault on the working class packaged as “fiscal responsibility” by the likes of Scott Walker has gone viral.  Since Wisconsin, this tactic – force hard working Americans to accept the notion of “austerity”, while giving corporations and millionaires tax breaks – has reared its ugly head in Ohio, Indiana, and Florida.  This week, the virus has found a new host – New York.

Over the weekend, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and GOP Senate leadership agreed on a plan to slash the State Budget  by billions of dollars – including hundreds of millions in cuts to public school funding and to State and City universities, millions more in cuts to homeless services and senior centers.  In addition, the State will allow the Millionaires’ Tax to expire, and will not strengthen laws protecting rent regulation for residents of New York City.  All of this is being justified by lawmakers as necessary measures to close the State’s deficit.  So let’s look at the numbers:

Total money being cut from the budget? About $3 billion.

Total tax revenue NY will be losing by letting the millionaire’s tax expire?  $4.6 billion.

Much like in Wisconsin, New Yorkers are being told that it’s our responsibility to make sacrifices in these harsh economic times.  This budget will force that issue – thousands of teachers could be laid off,  tuition hikes loom for students at public universities, medical services for groups that need it the most – like senior citizens, the homeless, and those with HIV/AIDS, could become very scarce.  But the wealthiest 3% of New Yorkers are being told, “You deserve a break.  Thanks for all that you do!”  So in essence, many of the Wall Street execs who played a major part in triggering the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression will be rewarded, while the families hardest hit by this crisis are being punished.

And like in Wisconsin, New Yorkers will not take this sitting down.  A coalition called Strong Economy for All is bringing together education groups, labor unions, tenants’ rights organizations, homeless advocates, and senior citizens to demand that Cuomo scraps this plan.  This Wednesday, thousands of New Yorkers will join the coalition from throughout the state to tell lawmakers in Albany  that their job needs to be fighting for good jobs, decent wages, a quality education, and healthcare for all New Yorkers.  They’ve protected Wall Street long enough.  Governor – tax the rich.  They got us into this mess, they need to do their fair share to get us out of it.  Don’t put this on the backs of the children, seniors, homeless, tenants, and teachers of New York.  We’ve been shouldering the burden for quite some time.

In New York, as in Wisconsin (and Ohio, and Indiana) the buzz word among the pro-Wall Street side has been “austerity”.  Austerity for who?  New York is one of the wealthiest states in one of the richest countries on the planet.  How can millionaires and elected officials talk to us about austerity while keeping a straight face?  Corporations like JP Morgan Chase pay only 11% of the State income taxes to which they’re obligated.  And those of us who make New York run on a daily basis are told we have to accept austerity? No, we will not accept that.  We have no tax loopholes, we received no bailouts.  Our State electeds need to preach austerity to the Wall Street side, and protect the services and programs on which working families rely for stability.

We’re asking all New Yorkers to get their voices heard.  We know you want to – roughly 80% of New Yorkers support the millionaire’s tax. You deserve better.  To sign a petition to Governor Cuomo, and to RSVP to our rally this Wednesday, March 30th, click here (Go to a college in New York State?  Click here to find out what student groups are doing on your campus).

For more info on the campaign, watch our action at the Capitol last week.

About the Author

Greg Basta

Staff Director for New York Communities for Change, an organization fighting for social and economic justice for working families throughout New York State. Also an overly proud native of Brooklyn.

One Response to New York’s Wisconsin Moment?

  1. Nathan Henderson-James says:

    This is so totally right on! The problems are not that we don’t have any money, it’s that we aren’t asking everyone to pay their fair share and, in fact, are cutting investments in working families at the same time we give billions away to the richest of the rich via tax loopholes and tax cuts for millionaires.

    We need to stand up and say enough is enough! We need to get militant on this and let people know that this will NOT be business as usual while corporations and their allies in government sit by and plunder our economy and strip out all the assets used to promote the growth and strenght of the middle class!

.tags { display: none; }

Switch to our mobile site