Elected Officials Including Prime Sponsors of the Bills In Attendance
January 24, 2023 (Albany, NY) – Today, Citizen Action of New York unveiled Our Justice Agenda 2023, a package of priority bills that address housing, health care, education and child care, the climate crisis, possibility not punishment, democracy and public money. They launched the platform at a press conference at the Capitol with members of the State Senate and Assembly who are prime sponsors of the bills.
With this agenda, Citizen Action is defining what they are expecting from the legislature and governor this year to prioritize the needs of everyday New Yorkers. As Brian Sempala-Kimuli, a member of Citizen Action Capital District Chapter, said, “Three years into the pandemic, everyday New Yorkers are struggling to pay rent and utility bills, put food on the table and afford child care. Meanwhile, the wealthy and big corporations have successfully played the system to continue making themselves richer at the expense of the rest of us. A good economy is fueled by people’s wellbeing – it’s time to demand that state leaders ask the wealthy to pay what they should so we can invest in things that benefit everyone and boost our economy, like schools, housing, and health care.”
“I stand with Citizen Action as we plan for The 2023 Justice Agenda. The Progressive Income Tax Bill will help stop the systematic inequalities affecting the most vulnerable members of our community,” said Assemblyman Demond Meeks. “A progressive income tax structure will ensure everyone pays a fair share of taxes. The funds raised through this legislation will allow families access to more affordable housing, better education and provide for the overall welfare of our families and residents throughout New York State.”
“Safe and stable communities are created through investment in resources, not punishment”, said Assemblymember Phara Souffrant Forrest. “One of the most important investments we can make is in mental health resources that keep everyone healthy and well. I am proud to work with Citizen Action to ensure we pass Treatment Not Jail this legislative session.”
“I’m excited that the Good Cause Eviction bill, which I am proud to sponsor, is included as a priority in Citizen Action’s “Our Justice Agenda” platform,” said State Senator Julia Salazar. “This legislation is needed now more than ever as New Yorkers continue to face a historic housing crisis. This common-sense bill would provide significant protections for tenants by clearly prohibiting unjustified and arbitrary evictions, thereby significantly enhance housing and community stability throughout the state. I look forward to joining Citizen Action in getting this legislation passed this session.”
“It’s an honor to stand with my colleagues and Citizen Action to launch the Our Justice Agenda. I’m proud to carry legislation to end forced labor in prisons and to end private companies’ profiteering off of incarcerated New Yorkers who simply want to call or email their loved ones. From creating a fair justice system to guaranteeing housing, healthcare, and education for all, this package of legislation protects and uplifts New Yorkers, make our society fairer, healthier, and stronger,” said Assemblymember Harvey Epstein.
“The housing crisis in our state impacts every corner of New York, and must be addressed this session”, said Assemblymember Marcela Mitaynes. “I am proud to sponsor the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act, which will build community ownership and reduce the special interest influence of the real estate industry. I stand with Citizen Action in pushing for solutions for everyday New Yorkers, not the privileged few.”
“The conversation around a just recovery has evolved. It’s not just about recovering anymore, it’s about building resilience from the ground up. We need to shift our state’s economic paradigm and put money in people’s pockets. Our Justice Agenda is a foundation for a budget that is responsive to New Yorker’s needs – raising the minimum wage, investing in our state at the root, and building public safety with public health. This budget cycle is an opportunity that can’t be missed,” said State Senator Jessica Ramos, lead sponsor of the Raise the Wage Act, the Treatment Not Jails Act, and the Billionaire’s Mark to Market tax on unrealized capital gains.
“To truly address our crises at the scale that is needed, New York must be willing to tax large corporations that continue to rake in profits and engage in price-gouging, and the ultra-rich who continue to get richer even as the rest of us grapple with the Covid-19 pandemic and an affordability crisis. Years of budget cuts have already left New York’s economy and social infrastructure hanging by a thread, and the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated wealth inequality: 1% of New Yorkers account for nearly 45% of all income,” said Assemblymember Sarahana Shrestha. “If we don’t commit to generating revenues from the wealthiest for the solutions we need, it will be the most vulnerable, such as seniors on fixed incomes, the sick and the disabled, care workers, and working families, who will be subjected to austerity measures while corporations and the ultra-rich thrive. We already see this happening as energy corporations and their CEOs amass profits while the average New Yorker struggles to pay bills.”
“In the wealthiest state in the nation, every New Yorker deserves to thrive. Middle, working-class, and low-income New Yorkers work hard to keep their families healthy and safe”, said Assemblymember Ron Kim. “I’m proud to stand with Citizen Action of New York so we can make millionaires and billionaires pay what they owe in taxes. It’s time to invest in our New York and put the needs of our communities, not the ultra-rich, first.”
The press conference also featured remarks from State Senator Robert Jackson, State Senator Jessica Ramos, State Senator Julia Salazar, Assemblymember Harvey Epstein, Assemblymember Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, Assemblymember Anna Kelles, Assemblymember Ron Kim, Assemblymember Demond Meeks, Assemblymember Marcela Mitaynes, Assemblymember Sarahana Shrestha, and Assemblymember Phara Souffrant-Forrest, along with representatives of Citizen Action of New York. It was held at the Capitol Building’s Million Dollar Staircase at 10 AM on January 24th. Watch the livestream here.