Legislative Alert: January 25, 2021

President's Message - We Cannot Cut our Way out of this Crisis

 

It goes without saying that cutting health care funding in any way during the worst health care crisis in our history makes no sense at all. Likewise, cutting any other vital public services – mental health, education, transportation, assistance for the elderly or the many other vital public programs that support our communities will be counterproductive to a quick recovery.

The deficit is estimated to be as high as $16 billion this year and for several years to come. Despite that staggering number more cuts at this time will only result in long term economic and social damage to our communities and state as a whole.  

There is no question we need more federal aid and the labor movement has been calling on our Congressional delegation, leadership in Congress and President Biden to help New York, which bore the brunt of the initial Covid wave. New York gives more than it gets back from the federal government and more importantly has always stepped up for every natural and man-made disaster that this nation and every state has ever faced. Now it is time for the nation to help us.

Unfortunately, the federal process can be slow and we must act in the state now. Years of a regressive and inadequate revenue system in New York have exacerbated the effects of the pandemic. We were making cuts in health care and underfunding education, state services and local governments while our infrastructure deteriorated even during times of unprecedented Wall Street success.  

Every revenue option at the state level must be on the table, including a more progressive income tax that ensures the wealthiest New Yorkers pay their fair share, the stock transfer tax, and closing corporate loopholes. Moreover, the new industries proposed by the Governor, including investments in cutting edge renewable energy programs, adult-use cannabis that creates jobs and revenue, expanded online gaming and new casinos, must be enacted immediately.

Only by taking aggressive and immediate action to permanently restore fairness to our tax code and growth in our economy can we preserve our public services, while enabling small businesses, the arts and entertainment industry, and tourism to safely reopen and rebuild the rest of our economy.  

Mario Cilento, President

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Issue of the Week

Support Absentee Ballot Access (S. 360 Comrie)

This bill would amend the New York State Constitution to remove provisions that limit access to absentee ballot voting in primary and general elections. This will increase voter participation and make it easier for individuals to vote.

The current language in the constitution requires that a person be out of their county of residence or physically unable to vote in person due to illness or physical disability to be eligible to vote absentee. This language is too restrictive and does not account for a myriad of legitimate reasons that a person may be unable to vote in person on election day.

The current restrictions do not consider that individuals have child care and family responsibilities, multiple jobs and unstable work schedules that inhibit the ability of people to attend the polls in person. Also, individual transportation needs vary greatly from urban to rural areas and access to the polls is not easy for many people.

The need for this bill is clear. New York’s voter participation has been dismal and year after year voter turnout in New York ranks among the bottom of all states. This bill will address one aspect of this problem by making it easier to vote absentee for many who otherwise would not be able to vote at all.

Therefore, this Federation urges this bill be passed.