Release: Green Candidates Demand State Revenue Sharing

The Greens' position paper criticizes those, like 4th District Councilor Khalid Bey as well as Governor Cuomo in remarks in Syracuse last June, who call for fiscal self-reliance for Syracuse. "Fiscal self-reliance is fiscal fantasy for Syracuse,” the position paper says.

Kevin Bott for Mayor - kevinbott.org

Howie Hawkins for 4th District Councilor - howiehawkins.org

MEDIA RELEASE

For immediate release: Wednesday, October 16, 2013

For more information: Kevin Bott, 299-8014; Howie Hawkins, 425-1025(h), 378-2232(c)

Green Candidates Say State Revenue Sharing Is

Solution to City's Fiscal Crisis

Syracuse, NY – Green Party candidates Kevin Bott for Mayor and Howie Hawkins for 4th District Councilor said today that a restoration of previously promised levels of state revenue sharing for urban aid and school aid was the only viable solution to Syracuse's fiscal crisis.

At a news conference on City Hall steps, Bott said, “Those who say Syracuse has to just accept the urban austerity budgets of New York State government are behind the times. The budget politics in Albany are fluid, not fixed, and they are changing as we speak. In response to front-running New York City mayoral candidate Bill DeBlasio's proposal to fund universal pre-K with a higher city income tax bracket for the very rich, Governor Cuomo is reported this week to be already scrambling to find money for it in state budgets going forward. Instead of just managing the drawdown city's fiscal reserves until it is taken over by a state-imposed Financial Control Board during the next mayoral term, the next Mayor of Syracuse should provide leadership in a broad campaign to make sure that the next state budget begins to restore previously legislated funding for the city and its schools.”

The Green candidates released their position paper at the news conference making the case that the state has created the fiscal crisis in Syracuse by reneging on previously legislated levels of urban aid and school aid.

The position paper warns that “Syracuse faces a Detroit-style takeover of the city and a Philly-style takeover of the school district in the next two or three years. What's at stake is whether we will still have the democratic right to address our problems together in a city government that we elect. Or whether the state will appoint agents of big business and Wall Street to rule over us through a Financial Control Board and an Education Oversight Board.”

“The once and future solution to the fiscal crisis is to restore the kind of revenue sharing funded by progressive taxation that was adopted by the state in 1970,” the position paper continues.

“Starting in late 1969, Syracuse Mayor Lee Alexander, New York City Mayor John Lindsay, and the other Big 6 Mayors campaigned for months for revenue sharing of progressive state taxes because the underlying cause of the fiscal crises that our state's cities faced then is the same cause we face today: the replacement of property tax-paying manufacturers with tax-exempt universities, hospitals, and government agencies. The solution then is still the solution today.”

“It is not a bailout for the state to fund the city and its schools. We paid state income and sales taxes to help pay for the mandated services the state assigns to the city. It is the height of fiscal irresponsibility for Syracuse elected officials to silently accept the cuts to previously legislated levels of urban aid and school aid. We intend to speak up for Syracuse in the next year's state budget process,” Hawkins said.

The position paper criticizes Mayor Miner and other city elected city officials, noting that they are all Democrats and none of them has publicly called for a restoration of previously promised state funding.

Miner is criticized for focusing on getting the state to change labor laws to give the city more leverage to negotiate wage and benefit concessions from city workers. “City workers don't get enough to give back anywhere near $24 million a year,” the position paper says, referring to the average projected city budget gap for the current and the next two fiscal years.

The paper also criticizes those, like 4th District Councilor Khalid Bey as well as Governor Cuomo in remarks in Syracuse last June, who call for fiscal self-reliance for Syracuse based on expanding the local property tax base with economic development. “Syracuse needs about $1 billion in new taxable property to raise the $24 million a year in additional revenues over the next three years that is needed cover projected budget gaps. That won't happen. The city only has 3.7 billion in taxable property now. Fiscal self-reliance is fiscal fantasy for Syracuse,” the position paper says.

The full position paper, with embedded links documenting the facts and quotes, can be read here.

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