It’s negotiation time! We’re ramping up our calls for justice! Budget negotiations are set to wrap up by the end of the month, before the April 1 deadline. With the Assembly and Senate one-house budgets released, we know exactly where we need to push harder. While both houses put forth progressive tax revenue proposals that would raise $7 billion, their proposals are just the starting point. The proposals fall far short of the $50 billion that the Invest in Our New York Act would raise, but their efforts show that legislators are listening and our actions are making a difference. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie must stand firm in their negotiations with the Governor, and pass a budget that makes strong investments in our communities.
Before we get into what’s been happening around the state, I want to take a moment to send love to our AAPI family. Our hearts are with the loved ones of the 8 people, including 7 women, killed this week in Atlanta, and everyone who has been impacted by the surge in violence targeting the Asian American community nationwide. It’s sad to say, but I’m not surprised at the mainstream media’s attempt to downplay the threat of white supremacy in America. Hearing about news reports that attempt to justify the murderer’s actions by saying he was “having a bad day” is outright hurtful and a slap in the face to communities who have endured this type of violence for decades. Racism, misogyny and xenophobia are deadly. America has a white domestic terrorist problem that it needs to address! We released a statement of solidarity to the AAPI community.
“We stand with our AAPI sisters and brothers. Over the last year, we have seen an unacceptable rise in anti-Asian violence. Hate crimes targeting AAPI people are up 150% since January 2020.” Click here to read the full statement by our Political Director Stanley Fritz.
Around the State
One-House Budgets Released
In response to the Assembly and Senate one-house budgets, Citizen Action President Ivette Alfonso said:
“On Governor Cuomo’s watch, New York has steadily grown to crisis levels of inequality. For a decade, he’s used his influence to protect billionaires at the expense of the rest of us. That ends here. In a time of instability and crisis, we cannot count on Governor Cuomo. The budget proposals put forward this week by the State Senate and Assembly show that our legislators are listening and they have the power to hold the Governor accountable for years of divestment in Black, Brown and low-income communities.”
Click here to read the full statement
HALT Solitary Bill Awaits Governor’s Signature
The HALT Solitary Confinement Act is one step closer to becoming law! The New York State Senate passed the bill this week, and the pressure is now on Governor Cuomo to make sure he signs it. The HALT bill restricts the use of isolated confinement and prohibits it for vulnerable people like pregnant women and those with histories of mental health issues. Jalil Muntaqim, community organizer in Rochester, released a statement in celebration of this good news and shared with me some information about his time in solitary confinement.
“I did 9 months in solitary and recognized how damaging it can be for many others. I witnessed men become mentally distraught. I recognize solitary confinement is damaging to the mind, but also to the spirit. Therefore, the HALT Solitary Act saves lives.” Click here to read his full statement.
NYC Council District 23 Endorsement Announced
Our New York City chapter rolled out another city council endorsement! Citizen Action is backing Jaslin Kaur for Council District 23 in eastern Queens. Jaslin is an organizer and an advocate who is running to invest in education, housing, health and more. Jaslin supports progressive solutions to the issues facing her community. She is committed to improving care for seniors, protecting the environment and making sure residents can get around the community safely and timely by streamlining bus services. Click here to read our full announcement about Jaslin’s endorsement, and here to learn more about her campaign. Be sure to check out the full list of endorsements here.
Prohibition Doesn’t Work
As the legislators get closer to finalizing a deal to legalize recreational marijuana in New York, Citizen Action leaders joined Black Freedom Project for a press conference in support of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.
(click here retweet)
The New York Drug Policy Alliance and Public Science Project at the Graduate Center, CUNY, released a report detailing the racial disparities and economic impacts of marijuana arrests across the state. Click here to read it.
Talking about Vaccines
“These vaccines were not developed overnight,” said Dr. Judith Flores, M.D., during a conversation about the Covid-19 vaccine hosted by the Citizen Action of New York’s Western NY Men/Women of Color Committee. The virtual discussion took place on Saturday, March 13, and featured guest speakers who shared their experiences with getting vaccinated. Dr. Flores spoke about the low vaccination rates among people of color. The purpose of the event was to ensure that people have the facts and can make an informed decision. Dr. Flores started the presentation by addressing common concerns, myths and questions about the vaccine, specifically, concerns many people have about its “swift” development and potential side effects.
“A lot of the speed has to do with the economic support and collaboration. I have never seen pharmaceutical companies work like this,” she said. Below is a screenshot of her presentation.
New York Health Act Moves Forward
The pandemic disproportionately harms Black, Brown, immigrant and low-income New Yorkers due to long-standing inequities in our health care system. We’re sending a huge thank you to state senators Julia Salazar, Jessica Ramos, Jabari Brisport and others for cosponsoring the New York Health Act! The bill was reintroduced this week with majority support in both the Assembly and Senate and has a good chance of passing this session.
“The New York Health Act [A6058/S5474] will provide comprehensive, universal health coverage — including long-term care — for every resident of New York. You and your healthcare providers will work to keep you healthy. New York Health pays the bill. And health insurance coverage will no longer be tied to our jobs.”
Hardship Declaration Form is Available to Tenants
New York’s Hardship Declaration Form is available to tenants who are at risk for eviction. Tenants can submit the form to avoid facing eviction or unnecessary court proceedings until at least May 1. Click here to access the Hardship Declaration Form.
“This eviction moratorium was won through relentless tenant organizing, but its protections are only as strong as its implementation. Tenants must be made aware of their rights in order to assert them, and landlords and judges must be held accountable in ensuring this happens.” – Rebecca Garrard, a tenant advocate and Campaigns Manager for Housing Justice.
Federal Action Team
Our collective work to elect a new President and a Democratic majority in both the House and Senate has kicked open the door to change, and we’re ready to run (and/or dance) through it!
We’re part of a national network of people gearing up to stand strong for what we need from our federal government. New Yorkers are in a key position to move the national agenda because Senator Chuck Schumer has replaced Mitch McConnell as the Senate Majority Leader.
A bold relief package is a necessary first step toward an equitable and transformative recovery, and we won’t stop there – we’re building a Federal Take Action Team that we will activate when there are opportunities for real change on the federal level. Join us: cit.ac/federalaction
We can’t wait to build even more power with you1
Tuesday, March 23 at 11 a.m.
No Half Measures Rally
The New York State Senate and Assembly have proposed a 2021 state budget with $7 billion in new, progressive revenue by taxing the rich. But the wealthy are fighting to keep these historic investments from happening. On Tuesday, 3/23 we rally in Albany to say: NOT ONE PENNY LESS – Invest In Our New York! Click here to register: http://bit.ly/continuetolead
Wednesday, March 24 at 6:30 p.m.
Letter to the Editor Workshop
Letters to the editors are a great way to make our voices heard on current issues impacting our communities. Join us for a letter to the editor writing workshop where we’ll do a brief narrative overview and then break out into groups to workshop our letters. Feel free to bring a draft or start fresh with a partner. Lastly, we’ll go over submission tips! Click here to register: cit.ac/letterworkshop
Thursday, March 25 at 5-6:30 p.m.
Demand Justice Committee
Join the Hudson Valley chapter to debrief our recent statewide lobby day, and talk about next actions for HALT and marijuana legalization. Click here to register: http://cit.ac/HVDJMarch
Saturday, March 27 at 3 p.m.
Member Meeting with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer
Join us for a meeting with Sen. Chuck Schumer! By ensuring the American Rescue Plan addresses the economic needs of average people, Democrats in Congress have shown their commitment to a government that works for everyone. Now we need them to uphold that commitment by repairing our broken political system so it works for average people too. We need them to pass S1, the For the People Act, and return political power to the hands of the people – where it belongs. Click here to register: www.cit.ac/SchumerRSVP
Thursday, April 1 at 6:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Transforming the World View
Join our political education team to discuss our worldview, and how we can share our message of transformation in order to build the world we want to live in. Click here to register.
Join the Movement
Citizen Action of New York is building power in communities across the state. Our members are the reason we’re able to do effective grassroots organizing and achieve justice for our communities. Our members give what they can when they can, and each contribution is directly invested in local leadership development. Click here to support.
There are many ways to get involved right now. Click here to contact a Citizen Action chapter in your area and ask how you can get involved locally.
“Life is not what you alone make it. Life is the input of everyone who touched your life and every experience that entered it. We are all part of one another.”
“The movement is contagious, and the people in it are the ones who pass on the spirit”. – Yuri Kochiyama