NY Budget Agreement Reactions

(WAMC)Late Sunday afternoon, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders announced they had come to an agreement on a budget that will close the state’s 10 Billion dollar deficit. Capital District Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.

The new budget promises to be an early budget – one Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver calls “strong and firmly grounded in reality.” New York’s budgets are notorious for being late: at one point for 20 consecutive years — and Governor Cuomo says having an on-time budget is a “big deal.” Cuomo promises the budgets “real policy initiatives” will make a striking difference… but the swift agreement caught some off guard and apprehensive. Senior Advocate Gloria Wilson of Manhattan-based “Community Voices Heard” is concerned about how the budget will impact older New Yorkers. While Cuomo maintains he is putting the state on a better financial trajectory, Lisa Tyson with the Long Island Progressive Coalition says the tentative agreement still tilts too far in favor of the wealthy. On the other side of the issue, Michael Moran, Director of Communications for the Business Council Of New York State, praises the budget as one that actually puts the state on the path to prosperity and growth.

90% of voters surveyed in a Siena Poll released Monday said an on-time budget was important – Pollster Steve Greenberg says Governor Cuomo is the big winner coming out of this budget: “Voters think an on-time budget is important by a nine-to-one margin.” James Parrott of the Fiscal Policy Institute says women and children make up 77 percent of New York’s poor. A new Institute report finds deep cuts to human services in Governor’s Cuomo’s budget would drive some women and children deeper into poverty, reducing opportunities to move up, and destabilizing those already struggling to get by. Now that it’s been presented, Governor Cuomo’s $132.5 billion state budget deal awaits legislative approval.

Confronting Bush on Social Spending

Education Info 101

11-13-07, 10:13 am

President Bush has found his veto pen again.

This time he is threatening to kill a bill that would increase funding for veterans’ mental health programs, displaced worker retraining, Head Start, college financial aid, elementary and secondary education programs, special education programs for students with disabilities, cancer treatment studies, studies of traumatic brain injuries, aid to working families to help pay expensive home energy costs during cold winters, home delivery of nutrition for poor seniors among other programs.

Both houses of Congress overwhelmingly approved the bill last week.

The confrontation with Bush over spending on social programs that benefit working families signals the sharp contrast between the free market, anti-worker ideology of the Bush administration along with his ultra-right Republican friends in Congress and the pro-working families agenda mandated by the people’s upsurge that changed Congress in the 2006 elections.

Scott McConnell of the Emergency Campaign for America’s Priorities sees the confrontation with Bush’s anti-working families agenda as a clear indication of the differences with Bush and the Republicans over national priorities.

Said McConnell, “This isn’t a struggle over a single program or even a single bill. It’s really a struggle over where our priorities lie, and what type of a country we want to live in.”

McConnell also connected Bush demand to cut social programs with his renewed requests for new cash to fund his failed war policy in Iraq.

“How can members of Congress and President Bush say we can afford $10 billion a month in Iraq when we can’t afford the priorities here at home,” he added.

Trudi Renwick of New York’s Fiscal Policy Institute stated that the cuts demanded by the Bush administration would have a huge negative impact on working families.

“While the money, when looking at the overall federal budget, is really miniscule, less then 1% of total expenditures, is what this fight is about,” Renwick argued, “the impact on particular states and the programs in our states is really devastating.”

One of the many programs on Bush’s chopping block is the low Income Home Energy assistance Program, which helps literally hundreds of thousands of working families pay expensive energy costs during the winter months, according to Lisa Tyson, director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition/Citizen Action on Long Island.

“In a nation where the president can find the money to spend almost half a trillion dollars on the war in Iraq, no one should have to fear that their local utility is going to shut off their power in the winter,” Tyson said. She added that Bush’s cuts to this program will force many working families to choose between paying their heating bills or buying enough food to feed their families.

Flo Tripi of Civil Service Employees Union Local 1000, an affiliate of AFSCME, said the battle with Bush over domestic programs will have an enormous impact on the 2008 elections.

“People are going to look at where they are in this country and that they are not better off now than they were five or six years ago, that things are getting worse, and that it is much more difficult to raise families,” Tripi said. the declining situation of working families under Republican control of the government will influence how people vote in November 2008, she stated.

–Reach Joel Wendland at jwendland@politicalaffairs.net