Public Employees for Fairness in Budget and Taxes
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday March 31, 2009
Contact: Jillian Matundan (518) 869-2245
Albany -- Today more than 2,000 public and non-profit workers, members of AFSCME New York affiliates from across the state, descended on the state capitol to call for a fair state budget that puts New York’s economy back on track and protects vital public services. After hearing from key state leaders including State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, the AFSCME members met with legislators to make the case for the fair way to put New Yorkers back to work and to pay for the essential services that New York State delivers.
“Today the working people of New York are here to remind the governor and the legislature of what their priorities should be: getting this state and its people through these tough times by restarting the economy and by protecting the essential services that keep counties, cities, towns and this entire state functioning,” said AFSCME International President Gerald W. McEntee. “If New York is to emerge stronger, then the state’s elected leaders must act boldly and wisely to build a foundation for lasting prosperity. Not just for the wealthiest citizens, but for the working people who make this great state happen.”
The nation’s economic crisis has hit New York particularly hard with a budget gap estimated at $16 billion, endangering vital services that the public relies on. Governor David Paterson is proposing measures that will cause more problems for the people and the economy. Instead of sharing the sacrifice amongst the citizens of the state or finding better revenue solutions, he has proposed huge cuts to essential programs, increased fees and regressive consumption taxes, and Tuesday ordered the layoff of thousands of state employees. His proposals would make the economy worse, and hurt New York State, the citizens who live here and the workers who deliver essential public services.
“New Yorkers deserve better than a plan that will put nearly 9,000 taxpayers out of work and erode public services when they are needed most and at best will cause chaos in state operations,” said Danny Donohue, president of CSEA, Local 1000, AFSCME’s largest affiliate. “CSEA members and their brothers and sisters will use the opportunity to let New York’s elected officials know exactly how reckless and irresponsible the plan to eliminate the jobs of 8,900 state employees really is.”
Dangerous cuts to healthcare, education and essential public services are not the way to go. Economists know that in times of recession, the worst thing that government can do is cut spending on critical state services. AFSCME believes – and economists agree - that rather than make harmful and dangerous cuts, New York’s wealthier citizens should do their fair share to help us get through these tough times.
“Nobody knows better than the members of DC 37, AFSCME, the severity of this fiscal crisis. We’re on the frontlines every day as millions of New Yorkers struggle to stay afloat. We know the pain and suffering these proposed cuts could cause. We also know that the answer is not Governor Paterson’s plan of putting 9,000 public employees’ jobs on the chopping block or Mayor Bloomberg’s plan of putting 23,000 workers on the unemployment lines, said DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts. “That’s not the solution to this problem. The solution is jobs, jobs, and more jobs. That’s why President Barack Obama’s stimulus package is designed to generate jobs not destroy them. If there is one thing that should be obvious in this economic climate it is that layoffs are not the solution, they only compound the problem we’re facing.”
“Also, our research shows that the City could save over $9 billion if it stopped paying private contractors to do the same job our members do better and for a lot less.”
AFSCME New York represents 420,000 public services workers across the state, made up of members from CSEA Local 1000, DC 37, DC 1707, Council 35, Council 66, and Council 82.