ALBANY (Feb. 2, 2016) – A day after a Siena poll revealed that New Yorkers believe education should be a top priority of Gov. Cuomo and the legislature in 2016, a total of 18 community groups and unions launched the Stand Up For Kids campaign. This sweeping progressive campaign will confront childhood poverty and income and educational inequality with a birth-to-college agenda to provide a pathway out of poverty for children and families. The campaign is promoting two progressive revenue proposals to provide the needed funding: a 1 percent tax increase on the 1 percent and closing the carried interest loophole for hedge fund managers.
The groups, Advocates for Children, Alliance for Quality Education, Black Youth Power 100, Center for Children’s Initiatives, Children’s Defense Fund, Citizen Action of New York, Coalition for Educational Justice, Color of Change, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Fiscal Policy Institute, Hispanic Federation, Long Island Progressive Coalition, Make the Road New York, New York Communities for Change, New York Immigration Coalition, Professional Staff Congress, Strong Economy for All Coalition and New York Working Families, are motivated by the state’s unprecedented numbers of children living in poverty and the record levels of hunger and homelessness.
This inequality affects all New Yorkers, but disproportionately disrupts the lives of children, especially those who are low-income, of color or immigrants.
The Stand Up for Kids Campaign and its supporters demand that our elected officials stand up for all of our children, youth and families by asking the wealthiest New Yorkers to invest in our future. This means that all families should have access to pre-natal, infant and early childhood home visits, affordable childcare, access to quality full-day pre-K for three- and four-year-olds, an enriching K-12 education and quality and affordable higher education.
To support the bold progressive agenda, a dedicated revenue stream will be created. The coalition is proposing two revenues to support these investments. The Fiscal Policy Institute presented a 1 percent personal income tax increase on the 1 percent (households earning $665,000 or more), which generates an estimated $2.3 billion annually in new revenues. The Strong Economy for All Coalition provided a proposal to close the carried interest loophole, a tax benefit that allows hedge fund managers to avoid taxes on their income, which would generate up to $6 billion annually.
“We have united behind this cause because too many families and children are going without a pathway out of poverty,” said Jasmine Gripper, Legislative Director for the Alliance for Quality Education. “We can change this. But it will take courage on the part of state to stand up to the wealthiest New Yorkers and say it’s time they contribute just a small amount more. It will make all the difference in the lives of our children.”
“Child poverty should not exist in the financial capital of the world,” said Rosemary Rivera, Organizing Director of Citizen Action of New York, “and the legislature has the power to do something about it. Now they need the will to do what’s right for our children and for the future of our communities.”
“The best response to the regressivity of New York’s overall state and local tax system is to make the personal income tax more progressive,” said Ron Deutsch, Executive Director of the Fiscal Policy Institute. “To do that, New York should build on the current tax structure originally proposed by Governor Cuomo in December 2011, and that is set to expire at the end of 2017. We should retain the middle-class tax breaks the governor introduced then, and increase tax rates slightly for the richest 1 percent of New York’s taxpayers, with incomes over $665,000. Our 1% Plan for New York Tax Fairness will ensure that schools and vital public services can get the funding they require to meet the growing human infrastructure needs throughout the state.”
“In New York, a state that generates so much wealth, it is unacceptable that 50 percent of our children are living in poverty. We can do better,” said Jonathan Westin, Executive Director of New York Communities for Change.“Investing in our children is key to changing economic outcomes, with a small increase to the income tax of the 1 percent we can come closer to fully fund our public schools and show that we are a state that stands up for kids.”
“It’s not right that New York kids don’t have a fair shot at a world-class education. And it’s not right for hedge fund billionaires to pay a lower tax rate than teachers and truck drivers,” saidCharles Khan, Organizing Director of Strong Economy for All Coalition. “Asking billionaire hedge fund managers and private-equity executives to pay their fair share of taxes is exactly the right way to pay for the Stand Up for Kids agenda. Fair taxes can fund a big boost to help kids and strengthen our schools statewide — it’s the right move right now for New York.”
“Our state leads the nation in inequality,” said Bill Lipton, State Director of New York Working Families. “While the 1 percent has reaped almost all the economic gains, New York’s children have been paying the price. This injustice must end. A small tax on hedge funders and the wealthy would create a new social contract with New York’s children to ensure that every child has a fair opportunity. This is something every progressive elected official should endorse.”
“I am concerned about our state’s decision to shut the door on immigrant children who decide they want to go to college” says Teresa Quiroz, parent leader of Make the Road New York.“Undocumented students, even if they have been in this country for all of their schooling, are not allowed to access state aid to make college affordable. This is a huge waste of human capital. With $27 million, we can pass the DREAM Act and provide undocumented youth the opportunity to attend college with financial assistance.”
“We need to change the odds stacked against vulnerable children: those who don’t have access to high-quality early childhood development and learning, those who suffer health disparities, those less likely to graduate high school or more likely to be involved in the criminal justice system,” said Samantha Levine, Acting Executive Director of the Children’s Defense Fund-New York. “What do all of these children have in common? Overwhelmingly, they are poor and children of color. Growing up poor has lifelong negative consequences. With the fifth highest poverty rate on the country, New York State needs to confront these challenges with a holistic approach that provides support for children and families from birth to college. CDF-New York is proud to join the Stand Up For Kids campaign as part of our mission to ensure a Healthy Start, a Head Start and a Fair Start for all children.”
“Access to quality educational is limited for Black youth,” said Delaine Powerful, Black Youth Project 100, Chapter Co-Chair, New York Chapter. “When New York City schools in low income communities with majority Black students have consecutive years of graduation rates below 60 percent and failing English and math standardized test scores, it is not our students or teachers who are inadequate. It’s the school system. New York State is failing Black students and must invest more money into restorative justice and quality education programs that address racism and poverty.”
“Since the 2008 recession the per student investment of the State in CUNY has declined by 17 percent. This money has been largely replaced by student tuition,” said Michael Fabricant, First Vice President of Professional Staff Congress of CUNY. “State disinvestment is also eroding the quality of education at CUNY. Bottom line is that students are paying more and more for less and less. This is an inequitable calculus of cost benefit for the largely poor and working class students of color at CUNY. This has to change and it has to change now.”
“Income inequality has waged a war on the children of New York for too long, causing low-income Black and Latino children to receive inferior childcare, inferior education, inferior health care and inferior options for their future, compared to their higher-income white peers. As a mother of two boys in Brownsville, Brooklyn, I witness this injustice every day, but I know it doesn’t have to be like this,” said Natasha Capers, Coordinator for the Coalition for Educational Justice New York City. “Research-proven models such as community schools, pre-K, nurse-family home visits and restorative justice can address these inequities and raise all children with the respect and opportunities they deserve, if only the most privileged New Yorkers will pay their fair share. No New Yorker should tolerate the injustices that our children suffer, and the Stand Up for Kids agenda will finally set this right.”
Stand Up For Kids Campaign Fact Sheet