Labor United in Support of Tax Reform Proposals Asking Wealthy to Pay Their Fair Share

For Immediate Release: March 18, 2021

Contact: 
Ron Deutsch, NYFF, 518-469-6769
Darcy Wells, NYS AFL-CIO 518-859-1274
Matt Hamilton, NYSUT 518-570-0430 

(NEW YORK) New York’s Labor Unions join together in solidarity to applaud the state legislature for taking a bold stand and proposing numerous tax reform proposals asking the wealthiest New Yorkers and corporations to pay their fair share. The COVID-19 crisis has starkly exposed the health and economic disparities in our society caused by years of budget cuts and inadequate social/public investment. 

Members of our unions and our communities are continuing to get sick and die while bearing the brunt of layoffs, furloughs, and wage loss. New York’s unions have long said that we cannot and should not cut our way out of this crisis. COVID relief funding from the federal government will be extremely helpful in the short term, but the state is still facing tens of billions in budget shortfalls for the foreseeable future. The revenues proposed in the Assembly and Senate one house budgets will ensure that the state is on firm financial footing for many years to come. 

New York has the greatest income inequality of any state in the nation and the revenue proposals from both houses will go a long way to rectify this problem.  Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, the ultra-rich have only gotten richer. And yet, New York has a crumbling infrastructure, billions owed to our public schools, nearly 100,000 homeless and is facing drastic cuts to vital services like health care. Fair, progressive taxation has overwhelming popular support and is sound economic policy. The one-house budgets are a huge leap in the right direction to create a fairer tax system and sustainable revenue streams to ensure a prosperous future for all of our states residents. 

According to NYS AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento, “We need a more fair and progressive tax structure to ensure we are able to withstand any future downturns or unexpected catastrophes such as this pandemic. However, just as importantly, fixing our broken state revenue system will ensure that New York can provide the vital public services we all rely upon, day after day, in good times as well as bad.”

“It’s time the ultrawealthy paid their fair share toward the public services all New Yorkers rely on,” New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta said. “The Legislature has advanced progressive tax proposals that would help generate the revenues needed to help fund public schools, colleges and hospitals in the years to come. We will continue to advocate that these bold proposals make it into the final budget deal so we can begin charting a better path forward for our state.”

“For far too long, those at the economic top in this state never paid their fair share while hardworking New Yorkers suffered. Finally, after an unprecedented crisis that drove New York to the brink of a financial abyss, we’re committed to righting that wrong,” said Henry Garrido, Executive Director, District Council 37, AFSCME. “I applaud the State Senate and Assembly tax proposals for prioritizing the needs of all, instead of the comforts of a few.”

United University Professions President Frederick E. Kowal said, “The American Rescue Plan funding for New York state is needed and necessary, but it should not be viewed as a solution to many longstanding problems the state faces—including the chronic underfunding of SUNY and public education. Implementing a progressive tax plan would provide the state with a new revenue stream that could be used to help solve these enduring issues. UUP supports the broad array of tax proposals offered by the Legislature and we will do all we can to ensure they become part of the state’s 2021-22 budget. The time is now for the ultra-rich to pay their fair share.” 

“We applaud the state legislature for bold budget proposals that increase higher income taxes on the highest earners and corporations. While we breathed a sigh of relief about the help that the American Rescue Plan will provide to our state, CWA has long been a proponent of recurring progressive taxation. The COVID-19 pandemic has made this painfully clear: our underfunded healthcare and education systems left essential workers and working families woefully unequipped to weather this crisis. We owe it to our hard-working essential workers who have been on the front lines of this crisis to put their needs ahead of the ultra-wealthy,” said Dennis Trainor, Vice President of CWA D1.

“We applaud the Legislature for rejecting the most draconian cuts to healthcare that were proposed in this year’s budget and proposing bold revenue raisers. While the federal stimulus will finally provide some relief to cities and states, filling New York’s budget gap isn’t enough. So many communities throughout the state were struggling well before the pandemic. We need a fairer, more sustainable tax system that begins to reverse New York’s deep racial and income inequality and makes sure all of New York’s communities not only survive, but thrive,” NYSNA President Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, RN. 

“We thank the state legislators for taking this important step forward by including much needed revenue generators in their one-house budgets this week,” said Beverley Brakeman, Regional Director for United Auto Workers Region 9A. “Although we are grateful for the money New York State will be receiving under the American Rescue Plan, it’s still not enough to address the underfunding of critical social services for many years. Plus, we need to make sure that we have recurring funds to properly fund these services going forward. It’s time to increase taxes on the higher income earners and corporations in our state so that we can properly fund vital social services that New Yorkers depend on every day, but most especially, during this pandemic. Essential workers have been on the front-lines taking care of all of us since the start of the pandemic over a year ago. It’s time we finally take care of them.”

“We applaud the Senate and Assembly on the groundbreaking proposals in their budget resolutions on ending tax breaks for the rich.   Both houses recognize that New York cannot recover from the current crisis unless we reject the austerity policies of the past.  Austerity was suffocating Black and brown New Yorkers, degrading CUNY, underfunding schools, and leaving New Yorkers without adequate housing and services.  The $7 billion in new revenue proposed by the legislature will move the state closer to a recovery that includes all New Yorkers.  We believe that there is an opportunity—and a responsibility—for New York to claim more of the progressive revenue sources within reach.  The wealth of the rich is created by working people.  We strongly support the Legislature in sustaining the important gains they have made and we urge them to reach even higher in this critical year,” said Professional Staff Congress President Barbara Bowen.

“The road to economic and public health recovery after COVID-19 requires the will and participation of all New Yorkers.  PEF members risked their health and that of their families working on the front lines of this pandemic.  Now it is time for ultra-wealthy New Yorkers to do their part.  PEF is proud to stand by the Senate and Assembly Majorities as they work collectively to implement fair and sustainable revenue streams by asking ultra-wealthy New Yorkers to pay just a little more as we work our way through this pandemic towards a brighter future.  These resources are sorely needed to protect and expand the quality services and programs that so many working families need,” stated Wayne Spence, Public Employees Federation (PEF) President.