In response to the final state budget approved yesterday, Rev. Emily McNeill, Acting Director of the Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State, said:
"A few important victories notwithstanding, the 2018 budget again fails to address New York’s first-in-the-nation inequality and persistent poverty.
“Rather than increasing taxes on millionaires and billionaires, Gov. Cuomo and the State Senate opted for the status quo. As a result, New York’s wealthiest will continue to pay less of their income in state and local taxes than the rest of us, and New York will have fewer resources to cushion the blow of federal budget cuts. The failure to raise revenue from those most able to pay will only perpetuate our state’s massive inequality.
“Also concerning is the power given Gov. Cuomo to make unilateral cuts in the future. This provision suggests New York’s response to federal cutbacks may be to balance the budget on the backs of poor, working and middle-class New Yorkers - rather than to use our resources to fill in the gaps.
“One bright spot in this flawed budget is New York has finally raised the age of adult criminal responsibility to 18. This is an important victory that will impact tens of thousands of youth and families.
“Another partial victory is the inclusion of $700 million more in Foundation Aid for disadvantaged public schools. While falling far short of the $1.47 billion the Board of Regents recommended, it is a significant improvement over what Gov. Cuomo had initially proposed.
“Finally, this budget includes $2 billion for supportive and affordable housing from last year’s budget that had been in limbo, waiting for a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ from the governor and legislative leaders. This represents a step forward, albeit a small one in the scope of New York’s homelessness and housing crisis.
“These victories were the result of grassroots leaders and activists, who tirelessly fought to have their families, their neighbors, and their own voices heard in the halls of power. Labor-Religion Coalition of NYS was honored to stand in solidarity and lend our support to these movements.
“The 2018 New York State Budget is yet another reminder of the critical work ahead of us. New Yorkers of faith and conscience cannot accept our current reality, in which 88,000 New Yorkers are homeless, 1 in 7 struggle with hunger, and half the children in Buffalo, Binghamton, Syracuse and Rochester are poor. We will continue to join labor and community partners across the state in fighting for a just and compassionate New York.”