For Immediate Release: March 31, 2015
Albany, NY – In reaction to the budget bills released today, Karen Scharff, Co-Chair of the New York Working Families Party said:
The fixation with an on-time budget should not trump the importance of a good one. This budget does too much for the wealthy and well connected, and barely moves the dial for working families.
We thank Speaker Heastie and the Assembly Majority for standing up for parents, teachers, and working families. The Assembly succeeded in blocking the worst of the Governor’s attacks on public schools and won $1.6 billion in new education funding–$1.3 billion of it in direct school aid. More money will go to pre-K upstate, and $75 million has been targeted to struggling schools. Sadly, however, New Yorkers are paying a price for electing a Senate majority that cares more about protecting their outside clients and donors than they care about schoolchildren.
The rest of the budget deal confirms New York’s status as the inequality capital of the nation. The passage of tax breaks for yachts and private jets while failing to raise the minimum wage for three million low-wage workers statewide increases inequality. The pay to play culture of Albany won’t change until they pass the number one recommendation of the Moreland Commission: public financing of elections.
Instead of an “Opportunity Agenda,” we have a budget that bars a whole generation of Dreamers from bettering themselves through hard work and education. It fails to raise the age, meaning that New York stands as one of only two states where 16-year-olds are charged as adults. And while Albany moves quickly to pass tax breaks for billionaires, this budget ignores the needs of working families who cannot afford to care for a newborn child, an aging parent or grandparent, or a seriously ill family member without some kind of paid family leave.
The legislative session is far from over. There’s time left, if the Governor and Senate want to redeem themselves, to enact policies that meet the needs of New York’s families. And we hope they will.