Howie Hawkins said that the budget resolutions by the two houses largely embrace the austerity policies of Governor Andrew Cuomo. Hawkins outlined a progressive alternative budget.
Hawkins Says Legislative Budget Resolutions Maintain Cuomo's Austerity Budget
Howie Hawkins, who is seeking the Green Party nomination for Governor, said today that the budget resolutions by the two houses largely embrace the austerity policies of Governor Andrew Cuomo.
"How long must we wait for meaningful steps on progressive goals like living-wage jobs for the unemployed in public works and services, fully-funded public schools, tuition-free public colleges, health care for all, affordable housing and mass transit, and climate-safe clean energy? The “one house” budget bills make it clear that state legislators don't have a progressive alternative to austerity. All they suggest are small changes that tinker around the margins of what remains a belt tightening budget," added Hawkins.
Hawkins said he supported the Assembly budget resolution's support for the DREAM Act, giving NYC the power to tax wealthy individuals to fund pre-k, and its opposition to Cuomo's local government tax cap and bank tax cut. Hawkins did agree with the Assembly that a targeted property tax circuit breaker would be fairer than Cuomo's proposal. But he said that the Assembly fell short in providing adequate funding for education, failed to fund significant anti-poverty initiatives or job creation, and embraced too many of Cuomo's tax cuts for the rich.
Hawkins opposes the partial public campaign finance model promoted by the Democrats, saying it is window dressing that will do little to curb the ability of the wealthy and special interests to buy lawmakers. Hawkins supports the full public campaign finance model that states such as Maine and Arizona utilize.
Bipartisan austerity is a major reason why the Green Party runs independent pro-worker, pro-environment candidates. What would a Green budget look like?
Greens would have the rich pay the tax rates they used to in the 1970s. That would yield about $30 billion in additional revenue.
$8 billion from the Progressive Income Tax: The more progressive personal income tax structure of those years would raise far more revenue from the top 5%, while giving 95% of us a tax cut, according to a Fiscal Policy Institute analysis.
$15 billion from the Stock Transfer Tax: This pennies per trade tax has averaged around $15 billion in recent years, but has been 100% rebated since 1981. (Assemblymember Phil Steck is proposing that the state keep 60% of the stock transfer tax. The Assembly budget resolution does reject Cuomo's proposal to repeal the tax but does not seek to stop the rebate.)
$7 billion from Cutting Corporate Welfare: So-called economic incentives to corporations in the form of tax breaks and subsidies were negligible in the 1970s. Now they are $7 billion a year. A report for Cuomo's Pataki-McCall tax reform commission found that the nine-fold increase in these business incentives since 1994 resulted in a net loss of 175,000 jobs. This waste should be eliminated.
How would Greens spend an extra $30 billion?
$5 Billion for Revenue Sharing, Mandate Relief, and Tax Relief: Instead of Cuomo's top-down, one-size-fits-all property tax relief plan, restore revenue sharing to its originally enacted 8% of state revenues and let local governments decide for themselves how to distribute revenue sharing between cutting taxes and paying for state mandates, schools, and other public services. The Assembly budget proposal only provides an additional $280 million above Cuomo's proposal, bringing the Aid and Incentives for Municipalities (AIM) Program to only $995 million.
$3 Billion for Fully Funded Public Schools: Eliminate the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA), now heading for its fifth year of underfunding schools in order to close state budget gaps. $1.3 billion for the 2014-15 budget would fully fund the Foundation Aid Formula that was enacted in 2007 to equitably and fully fund public schools. The $1.7 billion remainder would make a first payment on delivering the $9.8 billion lost from five years of GEA. The Assembly is proposing only an additional $1 billion. Hawkins strongly disagrees with Cuomo's promotion of charter schools and to giving Mayors local control of schools.
$3 Billion for Statewide Universal Pre-K: The State Education Department (SED) estimates a $1.6 billion a year cost for full-day Pre-K for all 4 year olds. Advocates for including 3 year olds cite research showing the superior outcomes. That would roughly double SED's estimate.
$1.5 Billion for Tuition Free NY: Free tuition for public higher education – CUNY, SUNY, and community colleges – would cost $1.5 billion a year. The Assembly only proposes an additional $47 million to tap, raising the maximum TAP (Tuition Assistance Program) award $300 to a maximum of $5,300.
$5 Billion for Infrastructure: The state comptroller reports an $89 billion shortfall in funding for water, sewer, and transportation infrastructure over the next 20 years. $5 billion a year will close the gap.
$12.5 Billion for Other Progressive Priorities: Many progressive priorities and public jobs could be funded with the remaining $12.5 billion, including the DREAM Act, emergency food programs, environmental protection, and more. A top funding priority for Greens is addressing the climate crisis and the jobs crisis by building a 100% clean energy system by 2030.