Albany, NY— As one of dozens of progressive organizations calling for higher taxes on the rich to avoid cutting essential services to poor and working families, today, Citizen Action united its diverse membership for a massive lobby day. Their message: pass the Invest in Our New York Act and other critical revenue raisers such as the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.
With the Capitol closed to visitors, Citizen Action is uniting its strong, progressive base virtually to encourage the Assembly and Senate to include the Invest in Our New York Act in their one-house budgets. A one-time payment from Washington will not go far enough. The Invest in Our New York Act offers a long-term solution to New York’s multi-year budget crisis. It would generate up to $50 billion in new, progressive revenue annually.
“Black, brown, immigrant and low-income communities have been fighting against budget cuts and chronic divestment for years. It should come as no surprise that these are the same communities that were hit hardest by the pandemic,” said Shana Dahlin, Citizen Action State Board Member. “The Invest in Our New York Act will provide the money we need to invest in public housing and social housing programs like the voucher program, health care and fully funded schools. We need to get these revenue bills passed this year to make sure we can take care of our communities even after the federal stimulus runs out.”
The virtual statewide lobby day kicked off with a Pump-Up Rally at noon. Activists discussed how each of the tax the rich bills included in the Invest in New York Act would benefit their communities, including a measure that would tax financial transactions on Wall Street and inheritances. The bills would utilize untapped revenue sources and begin to undo decades of rigged tax policies that have only benefited the rich. After the rally, activists from New York City, Central New York, the Capital Region, Western New York and the Southern Tier met with their state legislators for pre-assigned Zoom lobby visits to champion statewide and local issues.
Even as millions of New Yorkers face hunger, eviction, death and destruction caused by Covid-19, the rich got richer. In fact, during the first 6 months of the pandemic, billionaires in New York saw their combined net worth skyrocket by nearly $90 billion. Citizen Action members are also meeting with legislators to push forward their decarceration agenda, which includes passing the HALT Solitary Confinement Act and Fair and Timely Parole in New York.
“To allow children to lose lunch like what happened in Rochester city schools, let alone during a global pandemic, shows exactly where our priorities are as a state. At the same time, billionaires are getting richer in their sleep because of the way our laws are written. In real time we are seeing our children and families experience pain and trauma while the wealthy are waking up to a full course meal; it’s not only immoral, it’s almost criminal — in a state as wealthy as ours, no one should become homeless or go hungry. We will fight to make sure that it comes to an end,” said Jamell N.A. Henderson, Chair, Citizen Action New York City Chapter.
“There is no time to wait on revenue—it has to be a priority this year and it has to be done right. The Invest in Our New York Act is the best way to ensure we’ll have the money we need going forward to build back better,” said Ivette Alfonso, president of Citizen Action of New York. “Governor Cuomo was just threatening to withhold 20% from public schools and hospitals if the federal government did not provide $15 billion to New York. He did not help undocumented New Yorkers who were excluded from the first round of stimulus checks, and he did not stand with homeless and low-income renters and homeowners. The Governor’s routine of ignoring the people of New York, particularly Black and brown folks, has to end here. We need our legislators to take a stand and hold him accountable in this budget.”