December 7, 2011
By Dr. Barbara Bowen, President, Professional Staff Congress/CUNY
The Legislature and the Governor have an opportunity to enact real, progressive tax reform and to spare millions of low and middle-income New Yorkers from the continuing injustice that is built into the current State budget. For the sake of the 99% in New York—including thousands of CUNY students—they must not squander their chance. They must retain the “millionaires’ tax” or implement a new tax on the 1%.
Schools, human services, higher education and transportation have all been cut severely. Extension of the State income tax surcharge, the so-called “millionaires’ tax,” would solve State budget deficits for the current year and next year, and provide funds to restore needed investments in education, the safety net and job creation. Accepting a less progressive tax policy would allow the richest taxpayers to continue to pay less than their fair share.
CUNY alone has suffered $300 million in cuts in the past three years. These cuts have led to tuition hikes, over-crowded classrooms, over-worked faculty and staff, and lost opportunities for low-income students and many thousands of immigrants and people of color. Instead of funding CUNY, the State has been turning our students in to cash machines. It’s unconscionable to make the poorest people in the state pay more for a college education when the richest New Yorkers are about to get a $5 billion tax windfall.
The Legislature has a chance to step up for CUNY students and the rest of the 99% so that ordinary New Yorkers don’t foot the bill while millionaires and billionaires get a $5 billion handout. In their negotiations with the Governor, I urge legislators not to waver. Do not back down from creating a progressive tax system that raises the money that New York needs