While it could have been worse, this year's state budget is far from the moral budget that we need to combat devastating poverty and inequality in our state. We will continue fighting and we need your help.
Here's a recap of what we called for in our weekly Moral Mondays vigils and what our elected officials delivered in this year's budget:
- Full and fair funding of education - We called for $2.2 billion in additional funding for public schools. The final budget included $1.6 billion - less than schools need, but significantly more than was proposed in the Executive Budget.
- Fair taxation - We called for closing corporate tax loopholes and restoring progressivity to the state and local tax structure. The final budget did not do either - in fact it added tax exemptions for luxury yachts and private planes.
- A $15 minimum wage with indexing - No minimum wage increase was included in the budget, but legislation could still be considered this session.
- Adequate funding for social services, including $19 million in additional funding for the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program- HPNAP received $4.5 million in additional funding, an improvement over previous years, but not enough to meet growing need.
- Passage of the NYS DREAM Act - The DREAM Act was removed from the budget, but passed in the Assembly.
- Passage of Raise the Age legislation - The budget included funding for Raise the Age (which would end the practice of treating 16- and 17-year-olds in the criminal justice system as adults). However, legislation outlining how to implement the change is still needed.
- Implementation of a Special Prosecutor as part of criminal justice reforms - The budget did not include a special prosecutor.
- Ethics and campaign finance reform - The budget included some ethics reforms, however, they have gaping loopholes. No reforms were made to campaign finance rules.
Thanks to the activism and engagement of people like you, on many issues, the final budget was better than initial proposals. But overall, it continues to serve the interests of the wealthiest over those of poor and working families.
New Yorkers need things to change. For the last two months of this year's legislative session, we will continue bringing a moral message to the Capitol, demanding living wages, criminal justice reform, fair elections, and policies like Paid Family Leave that help working families.
Stay tuned for ways to take action in the coming weeks.
We also know that the struggle for a moral state budget is a long-term one. Only by continuing to educate, organize and mobilize year-round will we be able to win the changes that New Yorkers need. At Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State, we are in this for the long-haul. Will you stand with us?