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Green’s Hawkins: NY Gov. Cuomo Solves $9 Billion Deficit: 1) Slash Jobs, 2) Starve Children, 3) $5 Billion Tax Breaks for Rich

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Hunger Action Alert - Save the Welfare Grant, Stop Full Family Sanctions

Gov. Cuomo's proposed state budget cuts funding for a variety of anti-poverty and human service programs to help solve the state's $9 billion deficit, while proposing to spend $5 billion annually to pay for more tax cuts for the wealthiest New Yorkers. Lawmakers are telling us that they haven't heard much protest about the cuts to human services.

We need the Assembly to say no to these cuts. We want to target Assembly member Michele Titus (518-455-5668), the new chair of the Assembly Social Services Committee, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (518 455-3791) We also want to contact Sen. Dean Skelos, the Senate Majority leader. (518) 455-3171

Message:

Please help low-income New Yorkers. Say no to any delay in the welfare grant hike and to full family sanctions. Don't give a huge tax cut to the rich by ending the personal income tax surcharge. We want money for jobs for low-income New Yorkers.

You could also add a message re funding for emergency food. The Governor proposed keeping HPNAP at $29.7 million. Advocates are seeking $33.6 million. Service levels as the state food pantries and soup kitchens have increased 60% in the last three years.

We are also asking for $100 million for jobs for welfare participants. 2 years ago we got $70 million. This year the Governor is proposing zero funding.

Background:

Welfare grant hike. The Governor wants to delay for at least a year the final year of a promised annual ten percent increase in the basic welfare grant for three years. Even with the increase, households would be far below the federal poverty line. The state claims it would save $29 million; however, the state literally has more than a billion dollars surplus from the federal welfare block grant that is supposed to be used to help welfare participants but mainly gets used for fiscal relief to the counties. The increase would be a dollar a day for a family of three.

Full Family Sanctions. The Governor wants to impose full family sanctions for welfare participants. This is something that Governor Pataki used to propose each year and we would defeat. Right now, if an adult is penalized for (allegedly) failing to comply with a welfare rule (e.g., misses an appointment or a work assignment), only the adult loses their benefits but any children continue to receive assistance. Cuomo wants to deny benefits to children as well. Their excuse is that by also punishing children, adults will feel more pressure to comply with rules. However, in many cases the sanctions are incorrect (e.g., HRA /DSS faulty record keeping)/ And there is no evidence that full family sanctions changes anything other increasing poverty for children. This would only save $7 million annually.

Taxes. Two years ago to help the state resolve its budget deficit, lawmakers agreed to raise the top personal income tax rate for the richest New Yorkers by 1 to 2%. If this "surcharge" is ended, it would reduce taxes for the wealthy by $5 billion - and increase the state's deficit. Public opinion polls show that the vast majority of voters in NYS, including the wealthy, agree that we should keep the tax surcharge. Without the surcharge, someone making $40,000 pays the same tax rate as millionaires.

There are lots of other ways the state could solve its $9 billion deficit
without slashing services. It can close corporate tax loopholes or it could stop rebating $14 billion to Wall Street speculators from the stock transfer tax. Make Wall Street bail out Main Street rather than cutting human services, education and health care.

Jobs. We need more jobs in NYS, especially for welfare participants. Two years ago the state used $70 million in special welfare funds from the federal government to fund $70 million for a variety of jobs programs (e.g., transitional, wage subsidy, green) to help welfare participants. Gov. Cuomo is proposing no fund for these programs, no funds for Career Pathways and no funds for Summer Youth Employment - yet he wants to give the local districts $960 million in federal welfare dollars that they largely use to divert funds into non-welfare programs. We need jobs.

Remember, Lobby Day is March 1st. For more info, dunleamark@aol.com

[via email from Howie Hawkins]

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Comments

twig's picture
Submitted by twig on

I hope the calls work and these horrible measures don't pass.

We have a similar battle going on here in CA with Jerry Brown, also an alleged Dem. The Greens have great alternative proposals (here and here). He's ignoring them -- of course -- and hurting so many people in the process. Very sad.

basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

No wonder the GOP wanted to get Spitzer. They had Cuomo waiting in the wings and he'd keep their hands clean. I'm starting to wonder if some recessive gene in this kid is the reason his dad didn't run for president.

Sorry to hear this, NYer's.

john.halle's picture
Submitted by john.halle on

From The Ascension of Rachel Maddow Posted on 8/30/08 at Dissident Voice):

While this segment, one hopes, is not representative of where Maddow is headed, it luridly demonstrates that even the most principled, critical and flexible minds of every generation ultimately purchase their ticket for entry onto the road to “success” in the deeply pathological society we have become.

john.halle's picture
Submitted by john.halle on

Yes, all of this is the unmentioned dark side of the Madison protests-i.e. that they are directed against a Republican governor and so lots of those out on the street are only there on this basis and wouldn't be if a Democrat were doing the same thing.

That said, they are definitely good news. But the time to get really excited is when similar sorts of demonstrations are being held in Albany and Sacramento. Not in the immediate offing, but not out of the realm of possibility either.

The difference is that these will need to be pure grassroots ventures. In particular, the union leadership's response to attacks waged on them by Brown and Cuomo (and Obama for that matter-e.g. the salary freeze, EFCA etc.) has been "Thank you, master. Can I have another?" They won't be organizing any demonstrations against Democrats-no matter how reactionary. In fact, they will probably actively work to undermine them.

All of which is to say that there is no sign that they are interested in getting off the razor blade they have been sliding down for the past few decades.

Submitted by lambert on

But it's still good to exercise the muscles, as it were, at the grass roots level.

Submitted by Hugh on

The title of this post "1) Slash Jobs, 2) Starve Children, 3) $5 Billion Tax Breaks for Rich" reads like a standard recipe of kleptocracy. Take from those who are productive, take from those in need, and give to those who don't need and aren't productive.