New York State is facing a moral reckoning: will we take away from children and their families, or ask the ultra-wealthy to pay a little more?
Right now, our leaders are debating this very question, as they negotiate the State budget. But the reality is that there should be no question about the answer — only one course of action will further justice. New York can and must raise taxes on the wealthy, and invest in our schools.
The Governor’s approach would ask New York’s children to bear the brunt of this financial crisis. High need districts rely heavily on the state for school funding; any reduction in state aid to schools disproportionately impacts students in low-income communities. We saw the catastrophic impact of education cuts in 2011 — those cuts continue to reverberate through communities and schools that never caught back up.
By contrast, there are 112 billionaires in New York that have a combined wealth of $525 billion — almost 5 times New York State’s annual budget. A small tax on New York’s ultra rich would close the budget deficit, without sacrificing our children and their future.
Already families, educators and students are on the front lines of this crisis. We have seen communities confront unprecedented challenges with the resources that they have. If New Yorkers believe in fighting for justice, we cannot burden children and families with the cost of this crisis. We must ask the wealthy, those who are most able to pay, to do their part.
New York is at a crossroads. The choices made by our State Legislature in the coming week will determine thousands of children’s futures. Will we look back on this moment and see it as the day our leaders championed the rights of families? Or as the moment we turned our backs on them?
Senate Education Committee Chair Shelley Mayor called yesterday for raising taxes on the wealthy to ensure we can provide for our students. Our State Senators and Assemblymembers must have the moral courage to stand up to the Governor, and speak out about how to guarantee all children access to a quality education. Budgets are about priorities and choices. Send your state legislators an email now, and tell them we must choose justice, and protect Brown, Black, and low income children over the ultra-rich.