SPECIAL NEW YORK STATE BUDGET EDITION
(Click here for more photos from the Albany protests)
As the grassroots movement builds toward providing an opportunity to learn for every child, legislators in Albany seem determined to run in the opposite direction. New York's state budget, which makes drastic cuts in education funding while leaving New York's wealthiest untouched, was passed in the early morning hours of Thursday, March 31st. While the State Senate debated inside, hundreds of students, teachers, parents, and activists converged on the capital to remind their elected officials of whose interests they should be serving. The article below cover the tragic priorities of this budget and the inspiring courage of community activists that are fighting to protect kids, not millionaires.
Governor Cuomo to New York's Poor and Middle Class: Drop Dead
By James Ridgeway
March 29, 2011
There is no country in the industrial world with as great an income disparity between the rich and poor as the United States. And within the US, there is no state where the disparity is more pronounced than New York. New York City was the center of the Great Recession, and today unemployment there stands at 9 percent and is not expected to drop any time soon. At the same time, the financial sector that caused it all has recovered nicely, and the executives are pulling down salaries and perks larger than they did before the recession.
In the midst of all this gross inequality, New York's millionaires are getting a tax break, thanks to the state's new Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo. Son of liberal ex-governor Mario Cuomo, inheritor of some of the enthusiasm that once surrounded Eliot Spitzer's campaign, and successor to the weak stand-in David Paterson, Cuomo was elected on a wave of optimism. He even ran on the line of the Working Families Party, an increasingly important progressive player in state politics. Yet Andrew Cuomo has turned out to be just another craven neoliberal. In his most meaningful action to date, he has embraced a budget that would make any Bushite salivate.
Albany Finishes Rare On-Time Budget
By Thomas Kaplan
March 31, 2011
ALBANY - To the soundtrack of chanting protesters who draped banners from staircases and banged on the doors of the legislative chambers, lawmakers finished approving Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's budget early Thursday morning, making for the state's first on-time spending plan in five years.
The State Capitol was a place of pandemonium well into the night, with officials scrambling to get the education and health care parts of the budget printed so lawmakers could vote on them. The Senate passed its last budget bill about 11:30 p.m., while the Assembly finished about 1 a.m.
The $132.5 billion budget, which hews closely to what Mr. Cuomo proposed two months ago, cuts year-to-year spending for the first time in more than a decade and imposes no major new taxes.
Legislature OKs budget as protesters make final drive against cuts
By STEPHANIE LEE
March 31, 2011
Cuts in Cuomo's budget -- namely to primary education spending, the State University of New York budget and job creation programs -- drew ire from several hundred protesters who arrived Wednesday afternoon, including a large contingent that planned to remain in the Capitol overnight.
From 2 p.m., when the protesters began arriving by bus, the Capitol reverberated with chants and cheers. Shouting "Hey hey, ho ho, these budget cuts have got to go!" and "The people united will never be defeated!," they made their way past security, demonstrated in the halls and on the Western Staircase, signs and fists in the air. But the public galleries of both Senate and Assembly chambers were never opened to the demonstrators.
A number of the groups involved, including the Alliance for Quality Education and Strong Economy for All, have ties to public workers or teachers unions who have sparred with Cuomo over the budget. All were incensed at the slated demise of the "millionaires tax," the income tax surcharge on high-income New Yorkers that expires at the end of the year.
They were young and old, from upstate and downstate, dressed in bandannas and hand-lettered T-shirts. Many were black and Hispanic.
New York City school aid sliced by millions as lawmakers finalize on-time state budget
by Glenn Blain and Kenneth Lovett
March 31, 2011
ALBANY - New York City's school aid was sliced by millions of dollars as lawmakers finalized a new on-time state budget early Thursday morning.
The $132.5 billion budget cuts overall state spending for the first time in 15 years -- and closes a $10 billion deficit without borrowing or new, broad-based taxes.
On a day when the Capitol was overrun with hundreds of shouting protesters decrying the cuts, lawmakers worked late into the night to deliver the first on-time budget since 2005 and fourth since 1983. It's due tomorrow.
Fired up WNYers to protest in Albany
By Nalina Shapiro
March 30, 2011
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Western New Yorkers angry about the budget are on their way to Albany to take on lawmakers.
Protesters in Buffalo say they are going to the state capitol indefinitely or until police start making arrests.
"We are coming down in full force to let them know that we are going to stop this in any way possible," said Julie Boody of Citizen Action.
Fired up protesters headed to Albany say they are going to hold "Wisconsin style" demonstrations in the state capitol.
Rich District, Poor District
March 26, 2011
To balance New York State's budget, Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to cut a record $1.5 billion from the $23 billion budget for grades K-12.
The cuts would scarcely affect wealthy districts that rely primarily on local taxes to support lavishly appointed schools. But they would be catastrophic for impoverished rural districts that have been starved of state aid for decades and are still reeling from cuts levied last year when David Paterson was governor. Already struggling to furnish even basic course offerings, the poorest districts would need to cannibalize themselves to keep the doors open and the lights on.
The fundamental inequity of the cuts, as currently proposed, can be seen in how they would affect two of the state's school districts: Ilion in the economically depressed Mohawk Valley, and Syosset, a wealthy town in Long Island's Nassau County.
Gov. Cuomo's All-Cuts Budget
March 19, 2011
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has rightly argued that painful spending cuts will be needed to close New York's projected $10 billion deficit. The hard truth is that it is impossible to cut spending deeply without cutting the state's huge outlays for education and health care. That means that New York's most vulnerable citizens -- schoolchildren, the elderly, the poor, the sick -- will feel a disproportionate amount of the pain.
Governor Cuomo has vowed to make the tough decisions and not to be swayed by special-interest pleadings. But he is refusing to impose any new taxes or even continue a current surcharge on New York's wealthiest and least vulnerable citizens.