Union and Faith Leaders United in Support of One House Revenue Raisers Asking the Ultra-Rich to Pay their Fair Share
Groups Push Back On Those Suggesting Revenues No Longer Needed
For Immediate Release:
March 29, 2021
Ron Deutsch, NYFF, 518-469-6769
Darcy Wells, NYS AFL-CIO 518-859-1274
Matt Hamilton, NYSUT 518-570-0430
Peter Cook, NYSCOC, 508-380-8289
(New York) New York labor and faith leaders joined together in support of the smart and strategic “fair share” revenue raisers in the Assembly and Senate one-house budgets and urge their adoption in the final budget. The groups believe the state needs to look past the short-term relief we get from Washington and move toward sustainable revenue streams that ask the wealthy to pay their fair share that won’t push public services off a cliff once the federal aid is exhausted.
The state is still facing tens of billions of dollars in out-year budget gaps and will need new revenues to ensure that we are not right back in the same position as before in the coming years. Labor and faith leaders believe that the budget is a moral document and should reflect the needs of the many rather than catering to the needs of the already well-off few. It’s time to ensure that struggling New Yorkers get the resources they need to not only survive, but to thrive. To do that; it requires investments in programs and public services that have been underfunded for far too long.
According to Mario Cilento, President of the New York State AFL-CIO, “The federal aid coming into New York State will only do so much – it will help us for about the next two years but after that, the state will be addressing budget deficits on its own. These ‘fair share’ revenue raisers would affect a tiny portion of individuals in our state while ensuring we don't harm our health care system and still help fund education, state services and our local governments into the future.”
“The message to those negotiating the budget is simple: Fund our future,” New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta said. “One-shot federal funding is immensely helpful
for meeting the pandemic-related needs of K-12 and college students and our public hospitals in the short term. But fully funding public education and health care long term requires new revenues. It’s time the ultrawealthy paid their fair share toward the public services that benefit all New Yorkers.”
“It’s time for progressive taxation in New York. For far too long, those with the most have gotten by without paying their fair share. That must end. I urge our elected leaders to raise taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers and secure a better future for all,” said Henry Garrido, Executive Director District Council 37, AFSCME.
“Our society is failing. This great democratic experiment is failing. Our city and state, New York, New York, are great by almost any measure - except we are failing in the most fundamental of measures: how we treat the most vulnerable among us. Those most vulnerable among us fall into a broad range of demographics, the young, the elderly, the working yet poor, people of color—to just begin to name the people who could prosper if we did not systemically favor those already wealthy beyond what most of us can imagine. It is unethical to tolerate the gross economic iniquities that exist among the people of our state for any reason, much less out of fear that we might be abandoned by the wealthiest among us. It is unethical to tolerate workers whose full-time work does not afford them a living wage in this wealthiest of cities. It is unethical for us to tolerate excusing those most able to contribute to the well-being of all when they have the resources, if not the will, to do so of their own accord. A government of and for the people will act to protect the most vulnerable. In any season of the year, it will act to meet the needs of people struggling to pay bills, to educate their children, to make the rent, to care for basic health needs, to find even simple pleasures in a year of devastating losses. In this season of Lent, at the beginning of Holy Week, the Christian community remembers a citizen of the world who lived and died with love for all—especially the most vulnerable. We celebrate his memory by calling on our legislators to approve a budget that asks the wealthiest among us to pay their fair share to raise revenue that ensures long-term sustainability and offers much needed relief to the many among us struggling to keep up,” said The Reverend Michael Livingston, Interim Senior Minister, The Riverside Church, NYC.
“In this season, where we should be working together to help those who are suffering and in need of help, we seem to be continuing in the wrong direction. While the rich continue to become richer, as it has been reported during this pandemic, the poor are becoming poorer as they search for ways to keep their head above water, even as the system continues to restrain the resources and finances necessary for relief. God’s mission is that humanity be a catalyst to release people from economic, spiritual, emotional, and social poverty. The hope is together we change our attitude regarding those who are marginalized. Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. (Exodus 22:22) When our attitude changes, creating programs to assist the marginalized will promote the disadvantaged and not oppress. We will be able to see them as equals,” said Rev. Tanya Spencer Pastor Good Shepherd Community of Faith Buffalo New York.
"During Jewish Passover and Christian Holy Week, we are ever mindful of the suffering of oppressed people. The Israelites struggled to be released from the economic oppression of the Pharaoh; Jesus suffered at the hands of the Roman empire seeking to maintain its economic power at the expense of the most vulnerable. In New York, we have the worst wealth inequality
in the country. This inequality is oppressive and damaging to the health and welfare of millions of New Yorkers. The unwillingness of the state to address this inequality by correctly investing in our basic needs, hurts our economy. When the state can't invest correctly in its people, we hurt small and medium sized businesses and increase the tax burdens on those least able to afford it. Refusal to invest means low wealth New Yorkers spend an unbearable percentage of their shrinking household budgets on housing, food, childcare, health care, and education because the state is underfunding these services. Meanwhile, the wealthiest New Yorkers are paying the lowest overall taxes of any class of people while garnering unprecedented massive wealth during the pandemic. It’s only fair for the sake of all us that wealthier people and corporations invest a fraction of their windfall in our economy and in their workers and customers on which they rely for their success. To scare people into thinking big corporations and the super wealthy will run away if asked to pay a little more is a morally untenable threat which belies the truth that the real people leaving New York are not the wealthy but low and middle-income people. Those leaving can’t make it because of the state’s underinvestment and the wealthiest unwillingness to pay what they owe. God calls on us to side with the oppressed and release people from their bondage. One of the best paths to freedom is to ask people to pay their fair share according to their ability to pay," said The Reverend Peter Cook, Executive Director, New York State Council of Churches.
Get the facts on raising revenue:
• According to state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Wall Street bonuses are up 10 percent this year. Wall Street and the financial sector are thriving during the pandemic. • New York’s billionaires saw their incomes increase by $156 billion since the start of the pandemic – while we have lost more than 1 million jobs between December 2019 and December 2020.
• New York corporations got a 40 percent corporate tax cut from the 2017 Trump tax cuts (TCJA). The legislatures proposed increase in state corporate tax rates impacts only those businesses with gross incomes over $5 million and still keeps our rates (increasing from 6.5 percent to 9.5 percent) below neighboring New Jersey (11.5 percent) and Pennsylvania (10 percent) - this is not a tax on small or struggling businesses.
• Millionaire migration rhetoric is overblown and flies in the face of academic research. After the last millionaire surcharge was put in place, the number of millionaires in New York state doubled between 2009-2018. Millionaires are less likely to move than lower and middle-income New Yorkers.
• New York has the greatest income inequality of any state in the country and the wealthiest New Yorkers pay a smaller share of their income in state and local taxes than do lower and middle-income New Yorkers.