From Elizabeth Wood, faculty member in the Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work department and NCCFT Treasurer:
I was checking out the NYSUT Twitter account and saw reference NYSUT Activists filling the Desmond Hotel in Albany, and then to the new Legislative Director introducing his staff. Then I saw a reference to the Better Choice Budget Campaign. I found their site (http://www.abetterchoiceforny.org/) and was impressed by their list of actions that should be included in a balanced state response to the current budget crisis. Here are a few:
Closing loopholes that allow large, profitable corporations to avoid paying their fair share of state taxes.
Reducing the amount of state work that is contracted out to high-priced, for-profit consultants who are being overpaid to do work that state workers can do better for less.
Lowering prescription drug prices for state and local governments and New York consumers by using New York’s purchasing power to negotiate fair deals with the drug companies.
Making economic development/tax credit programs like Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs) and the Brownfield Clean-Up Program more effective and accountable and allowing the Empire Zones Program to expire.
Temporarily reducing the Stock Transfer Tax Rebate from 100% to 80% so the finance sector helps the state through the current economic downturn which was caused in part by the excesses of many Wall Street firms.
Curtailing growing obesity rates in NY children by adding a 1 cent per ounce tax on sugary beverages.
Ensuring that Reservation sales of cigarettes to non-Native Americans are properly taxed (by collecting those taxes before the products reach the reservations while still providing Native Americans with tax-free cigarettes).
Using the Tax Stabilization Reserve Fund (TSRF) to cover the Governor’s anticipated gap in this year’s budget rather than rolling it over to 2010-11. The TSRF is specifically for such end-of-year shortfalls.
Helping the environment by instituting a minimal plastic bag tax to reduce the use of 6.3 billion bags in NYS each year.
Please check out their site, and also, if you’re on Twitter, please follow NYSUT. And as you hear talk about the state’s budget crisis please make sure you add to the discussion that budgets are reflections of priorities, and that education must be a high priority both for opportunity today and for revenue tomorrow.
Meanwhile, I just thought it worth mentioning that as a unionist I’m particularly struck by the second item on the list above. I wonder how many times organizations hire expensive contractors to do work that their own in-house experts would do equally well and at less expense.