Senate shakeup could result in major changes in NY

Written by
Joseph Spector
Albany Bureau Chief

ALBANY — A hydrofracking moratorium, a higher minimum wage, stronger abortion protections and public financing of campaigns would top the agenda for Senate Democrats if they win a majority in November.

The decision late Wednesday by a five-member Senate Independent Democratic Conference to rejoin with Senate Democrats would have an major impact on New York policy. And it set off a war of words Thursday between Republicans and Democrats — a precursor to a bitter election fight over the next four months.

Democrats, if they win control, would push for other issues that have stalled: providing tuition assistance to immigrants in the country illegally, called the Dream Act; and allowing local governments to set their own minimum wages, up to about $13 an hour. They also want to decriminalize possession of a small amount of marijuana.

Raise Up NY Slide Deck


RAISE UP NY Slide Deck


Across the Nation, Momentum Continues to Grow for Raising Wages at the Local Level as Cities Stand up to McDonald’s & Walmart

New York—Citing Seattle’s historic deal to move to a $15 / hour minimum wage, fast food workers today urged Albany lawmakers to let cities raise the state’s unlivable $8 / hour minimum wage by passing RaiseUpNY (S.6516 Stewart-Cousins/ A.9036 Camara).

“The momentum is there. The need is there. It’s time for Albany to get off the sidelines and to start standing up for the 3 million low-wage New Yorkers who are working hard, playing by the rules, and still living in poverty,” said KFC worker Naquasia LeGrand.

“Otherwise, they’re just allowing the most profitable corporations on the planet, like Walmart and McDonald’s, to pay their workers as little as possible. Our economy will never get back on track that way—and women and people of color, the majority of folks in these jobs, will never have an honest shot at the middle class.”


Cities and counties around the country including California, Arizona and Washington State have already instituted higher minimum wages and the results have been hugely positive. In each case, there was opposition, but the sky didn’t fall. Instead, workers have more money in their pockets, poverty has been reduced and economies have gotten stronger. Even better—citywide increases didn’t hamstring efforts to raise the statewide minimum. In each case, the local initiatives helped build momentum for broader wage hikes.


73% of New Yorkers –including 2/3 of voters in every region of state – support this measure, as does the Black and Latino Caucus, and more than 125 prominent women leaders, including NAACP NYS President Hazel Dukes, President of NARAL Pro-Choice New York Andrea Miller, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, Citizen Action Executive Director Karen Scharff, Common Cause Executive Director Susan Lerner, NYS League of Women Voters Executive Director Barbara Bartoletti, NYS Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D- Yonkers), NYS Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D-Bronx/Westchester), NYS Assembly Member Shelley Mayer (D-Yonkers), NYS Assembly Member Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D-Buffalo), NYS Assembly Member Deborah Glick (D-Manhattan) and NYS State Assembly Member Michaelle Solages (D-Long Island).

Likelihood of Success

President Obama, the Pope, Billionaire Conservative Ron Unz, striking fast food workers, and 73% of New Yorkers agree we need to raise the minimum wage to jumpstart the economy. The tide is turning, momentum is on our side, and the bottom line is that even Albany isn’t immune to the will of voters.
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Michael Kink-Strong For All Exec. Dir. Summary Notes on Tax Issues In The Budget

On the budget & inequality:
“The tax provisions in this budget provide the biggest benefits to the wealthy and to Wall Street — they’ll make our worst-in-the-nation income inequality even worse”, said Michael Kink, Executive Director of the Strong Economy For All Coalition.  
On the elimination of the Bank Tax;
“Wall Street in New York is like oil & gas in Texas — their lobbyists usually get what they ask for.  What they got in this budget is a $350 million per year Albany bailout they don’t need and don’t deserve.”




Today’s the day to stop the Albany bailout for Wall Street – call your representatives TODAY, MONDAY MARCH 10 and tell them to reject Cuomo’s new tax break for big banks.


Cuomo’s proposal to eliminate the Bank Tax and lower rates of taxation will cost between $250 and $350 million per year – and the Governor admits that this new giveaway will be paid for with new austerity cuts elsewhere in the state budget.




Michael Kink Statement regarding Senator Skelos remarks on UPKNYC

“Senator Skelos should let democracy work. New York City deserves a vote on its home rule power to tax its own millionaires to pay for universal pre-k for its own children– the same as every other county in the state. Its not right for Senator Skelos and his legislative minority to block families and children from a shot at a brighter future.”

Strong Economy For All Coalition Statement on Cuomo Budget Address

Governor Cuomo’s effort to improve public trust in government will damaged by his proposal to give a billion dollars a year in new tax breaks to millionaires, billionaires and Wall Street.

New Yorkers care about both process and substance when it comes to state government — and they’re demanding action that will address the income inequality crisis that’s killing our economy.

These unfair & unneeded tax breaks will make inequality worse.

The Legislature should put that billion dollars to better use reducing inequality, creating more jobs with higher wages, expanding opportunities in education and higher education and fighting record-high levels of poverty and homelessness.

Strong Economy For All Coalition statement on Cuomo budget & public financing of elections

“By including public financing of state elections in his budget proposal, Governor Cuomo has demonstrated national leadership in the effort to reinvigorate our democracy and restore public trust in government.
New Yorkers need to know that state government can work for all of us.  Governor Cuomo is taking a big step towards ensuring that the voices of everyday New Yorkers can be heard above the din of big money — we urge the Legislature to support him and pass this proposal into law.”

Coalition Statement on Gov. Cuomo and AG Eric Schneiderman Chase settlement Deal

“We applaud Attorney General Schneiderman for listening to advocates and homeowners, and for standing up for New Yorkers by ensuring there will be significant money available to help working families stay in their homes. 

New York Inequality Budget Sign-On Letter

January 22, 2013
Honorable Governor Andrew Cuomo
Honorable Speaker Sheldon Silver
Honorable Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb
Honorable Majority Coalition Leader Dean Skelos
Honorable Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein
Honorable Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins
Dear State Leaders:
New York State has the worst income inequality in the nation – a broader divide between the rich and the poor than anywhere else.  We suffer unprecedented levels of homelessness and hunger throughout our state.  In our largest cities, half of the children live in poverty. 
We can’t accept these levels of poverty and inequality – it’s ethically wrong, it’s hurting our economy and it demands action for progress and change.
We urge you to evaluate this year’s budget proposals through the lens of income inequality.  And we urge you to eliminate proposals that make inequality worse, and boost those that ameliorate the crisis and broaden prosperity.
To cite a simple example: it’s wrong to provide over a billion dollars in tax cuts to the wealthiest families and biggest banks in our state at a time when so many New Yorkers are suffering.  These funds could go to more productive uses that would benefit significantly more people who need help badly.
We can’t afford a $750-million-per-year estate tax break that disproportionately benefits the wealthiest 200 families in our state while millions suffer in poverty.  It’s not right to provide a $350-million-per-year tax break to big banks at a time of record profits on Wall Street and record homelessness in New York City.  
We believe is time to put the middle class over millionaires. 
The past three budgets have implemented austerity measures that have made the daily lives of struggling families more difficult and have disproportionately hurt our schools, our communities and many of our poorest residents.  We need more action from state government to boost paychecks, invest in children and families, and lift New Yorkers out of poverty. And we must ensure that any tax relief provided in this budget is targeted to the working and middle class families that need it the most. 
We urge you to negotiate changes to the Executive Budget Proposal that meaningfully address New York’s income inequality crisis, that lift families and children out of poverty, and that grow our economy from the bottom up. 
To sign on email Ron Deutsch, Executive Director of New Yorker for Fiscal Fairness at by Tuesday, January 21 COB – we’ll send you details on the press conference shortly!