To the editor:
(re: “State budget aims to tax rich,” April 15)
We all should be proud of the state budget adopted recently, the most progressive in New York’s history.
Some 170 organizations — including Bend the Arc Jewish Action Riverdale and NYCD-16 Indivisible — joined the Invest in Our New York coalition, a consortium dedicated to ending tax breaks for the wealthy in order to ensure the state has predictable and stable revenue to fund high-quality health care, education and housing. And to make phone calls, write letters, and meet with our state legislators.
Some highlights of the bill include $1.4 billion in additional state aid to school districts (in addition to $13 billion from the federal government); $800 million for small business grants; $40 million for arts organizations; repeal of the corporate immunity granted in last year’s budget to nursing homes; and a $2.1 billion excluded workers fund for those New Yorkers ineligible for federal relief payments during the pandemic.
The excluded workers include our Bronx neighbors such as service employees who work in our stores and restaurants, as well as street vendors and others who provide essential services.
And how have these important measures been funded? From the federal American Rescue Plan and $4.3 billion in new state annual revenue from changes fought for by the Invest in Our New York coalition, including raising income tax rates on individuals who earn more than $1 million annually, and increases in corporate tax rates for large businesses.
Congratulations to state senate majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and our local representatives — state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi and Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz — for responding to the voices of your constituents.
There is still much to do, including providing funds for homecare workers and a housing voucher program for unhoused New Yorkers, which could be funded by new measures including an heirs tax, capital gains tax and Wall Street tax. But this budget is a great start.
The author is on the steering committee for Bend the Arc Jewish Action Riverdale, and an active member of NYCD-16 Indivisible