Albany, NY – In response to Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie reaching an agreement on a 2020 state budget, Rosemary Rivera, Co-Executive Director of Citizen Action of New York, released the following statement:

“This budget is immoral. This budget is devastating. This budget will be remembered for decades as a cruel and inhumane response to the suffering of millions.

“This is a moment of crisis, across New York, America and the world. If there was ever a time to recalibrate, invest in and strengthen government to ensure that everyone’s needs are met – it’s now. Instead, Governor Cuomo and the state legislature refused to raise taxes on the ultra rich – the 112 billionaires in New York whose mansions and offshore bank accounts are overflowing with wealth – while turning to cuts for school children and Black, Brown and low-income New Yorkers.

“Health care workers are going without the resources needed to keep patients healthy. Community members have lost their jobs, wondering how they will make rent. Teachers who were already struggling to meet the needs of their students are now being asked to do more with even less. People in jails and prisons are being subjected to unconscionably high rates of infection. Difficult moments like this remind us how much we all depend on one another, and that most of us want the same things for our families and communities.

“But the budget that Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Strewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie are putting forward today dishonors the sacrifices of the everyday heroes who’ve stepped up across New York in the middle of this pandemic. Instead, these budget decisions have made things worse by ensuring that our heroes will be the ones who pay the price by having less funding for schools, health care, housing and social services. While Governor Cuomo is being hailed as the nation’s hero, he has cemented his role as New York State’s budget villain.

“They chose to put thousands more legally innocent people in jail with regressive rollbacks to bail reform and made changes to the discovery law that decimate due process rights. They chose to compound the trauma that school children are experiencing, ramming through a budget that will force cuts to social workers and teachers. They chose to let tens of thousands of homeless New Yorkers fend for themselves on the streets during a pandemic, while tenants across the state are unsure where they will get the money to pay rent.

“The crisis in our communities is a decades-long disinvestment. This state budget doesn’t just continue on that path – it doubles down and makes devastating cuts at every turn. Here in New York, there’s no longer any Republican obstruction that should prevent Democrats from passing a state budget that begins to deal with the long-standing crisis of inequality by raising taxes on multi-millionaires and billionaires. Rather than rising to meet this moment and embracing solutions to the challenges everyday New Yorkers are facing, state leaders are passing a regressive budget that takes support and resources away from the most vulnerable in a time of great need.

“There were clear progressive champions in the rank and file of the State Senate and Assembly who fought hard against Governor Cuomo’s power grabs and to pass taxes on billionaires and invest in our communities. We now look to June and November to add to their ranks and create a legislature willing to make the choices necessary for our communities to survive and thrive.”

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