Over the last 30 years, advocates for the poor in Albany have gathered to push for issues in the state budget that benefit the hungry and homeless in New York. This year, they hope to make gains on those efforts with Democrats in full control of the Legislature for the first time in 10 years.
“There are a lot of things that have been bottled up in the state Senate for a lot of years and hopefully we’ll actually see some progress,” said climate change activist Mark Dunlea.
The Peoples State of the State on Tuesday in a typically bitterly cold January morning called for more money for affordable housing and social safety net programs. And advocates called for more funding for schools in New York.
“We have some strong advocates in the New York state Senate who are ready to fight for this and the children in their district,” said Alliance for Quality Education Jasmine Gripper.
To pay for it, advocates want to tax the rich in New York. Higher tax rates on the wealthy are set to expire at the end of the year. Susan Zimet of the Hunger Action Network pointed to the federal tax cuts in 2017 as benefitting mostly the wealthy.
“I would like to see some kind of tax that recoups some of the money they gained, but used in a way that is restricted for hunger, housing, health care and on the issues that matter to us,” said Zimet.
But not everyone agrees. EJ McMahon of the Empire Center says taxing the rich more in New York could be harmful, forcing them to move to other states.
“You may like or dislike the idea of taxing high-income people as much as possible,” said McMahon. “But it actually is self-destructive and counterproductive because of what it does to our budget because it relies so heavily on their income and their taxes.
This comes as the state budget is scheduled to pass by March 31.