Buffalo, NY and New York, NY- This afternoon, members of the Getting Our Money’s Worth Coalition responded to Governor Cuomo’s budget proposal. The Getting Our Money’s Worth Coalition is a broad coalition of public policy experts, government watchdogs, labor unions, community and religious organizations, and concerned small business owners, workers and taxpayers. The statewide coalition is anchored by New York Jobs with Justice and the Coalition for Economic Justice. The following statements focus on the need to balance revenue generation and the use of corporate subsidies with the needs of all New Yorkers:
Statement by Allison Duwe, Executive Director, Coalition for Economic Justice
Governor Cuomo’s budget proposal contains the most severe cuts in the state’s history. There’s no question that the economic and fiscal crises we face necessitate some spending cuts, but the Governor needs to wield a scalpel rather than a hatchet.
The majority of New Yorkers support extending the income tax surcharge on the richest New Yorkers, which would raise $4.6 billion in revenues this year alone. The state and local tax burden of the poorest 20% of New Yorkers is double that of the richest 1% of New Yorkers. Our inequitable tax system perpetuates the most severe income disparity in the nation. Meanwhile, deep cuts in education and healthcare spending hits working and middle class families the hardest.
The property tax cap the Governor recently introduced would make these budget cuts more draconian, especially for local schools, and harm our long-term ability to pay for the infrastructure and essential government services that make New York a great place to live and do business. A property tax circuit breaker would provide tax relief for the New Yorkers who need it most.
As New York’s new Governor, Andrew Cuomo must focus on the needs of the majority. It’s time to restore some progressivity and balance to New York’s tax system through making permanent the fair share tax law and enacting a property tax circuit breaker; helping bring solvency, stability and equity to taxpayers and our state budget.
Statement by Matt Ryan, Executive Director, NY Jobs with Justice
Governor Cuomo claims we spend $1.6 billion a year in economic development and rank 50th in the nation in terms of results, but this isn’t the whole story. Our state’s Frankenstein economic development structure, which is overly reliant on corporate subsidies and tax breaks, actually costs New York’s taxpayers $8.2 billion a year. It far too often fails to produce the promised jobs and community benefits. Governor Cuomo should look more closely at the hidden costs and the performance of job creation programs and public authorities in order to find efficiencies within our sprawling network of economic development programs.
While other areas of the budget are being cut, Cuomo plans to increase spending and reduce accountability for the new and unproven Excelsior jobs program. At the same time, he proposes to create another layer of administration in the form of Regional Economic Development Councils, which will give $130 million in grants to businesses this year. While new Regional Economic Development Councils could coordinate strategy and long-term vision to make New York a leader in economic development, it’s unclear if they’ll be just another hidden cost.
Taxpayers deserve more accountability and transparency with these programs, and New Yorkers deserve a job creation program that actually creates jobs—good jobs. Regional Economic Development Councils must incorporate high-road performance standards, accountability measures, and transparency reforms from the outset, and they should not be funded until they do.
Cuomo’s other proposal for economic development is to make across-the-board workforce cuts, which could mean 10,000 workers are added to the unemployment roles. Such massive layoffs will have a tremendous ripple effect through all sectors of the economy and will further stall our already weak economic recovery. At the beginning of his presentation, Governor Cuomo emphasized the need for “jobs, jobs, jobs.” But without a clear picture of the total cost of corporate subsidies, it’s hard to see where the jobs, jobs, jobs, or the relief for ordinary New Yorkers, are in this budget proposal.