Over three hundred and sixty people packed the hall of the JCC for the People’s Town Hall meeting on the New York City budget, which is being decided upon this week, to hear about revenue raising solutions rather than unnecessary service cuts to the people of Staten Island. People spoke passionately to a wide variety of projected cuts—including to education, youth services, fire houses, senior services, the arts, immigrant services, literacy programs, mental and developmental disabilities and AIDS services, and housing—that threaten our quality of life. Representatives from all zip codes spoke about how the cuts will impact communities from shore to shore.
Former Federal Reserve Bank of NY economist Chris Rude and NYC high-school math teacher John McGloin painted a comprehensive economic picture, showing how a long pattern of revenue decline and tax cuts for upper incomes and corporations have weakened support for necessary social structures.
Drawing on research from Strong Economy for all, Center for Working Families, the Fiscal Policy Institute and the city’s Independent Budget Office, economic policy analyst Sara Burke proposed immediate revenue-raising solutions to what is being mis-labelled a “budgetary crisis”: Ms. Burke pointed out that ending subsidies to the big five banks, closing hedge fund loopholes, cutting NYC contracts to the big six banks, demanding that the electronic mortgage recording system pay fees owed to NYC, taxing millionaires, and immediately using one third of the city’s $3 billion surplus would raise $2 billion dollars. More ambitious proposals, including restoring the commuter tax, establishing a progressive commuter tax, making insurance companies pay taxes as other businesses do and increasing personal income taxes for the wealthy could raise another $2.07 billion.
Responding to the speak-out was Councilmember Debi Rose. Councilmember James Oddo sent a representative. Councilmember Vincent Ignizio did not attend.
The group is planing follow up actions which will be announced on its website si4rbs.wordpress.org and will be issuing a report in the coming weeks.
One such action has begun already: here are participants in the People’s Town Hall who went to the “Bloombergville Camp” by city hall after the People’s Town Hall to participate in protests against the Mayor’s proposed budget.
Press coverage and listings on the People’s Town Hall:
Saturday, June 11, 2011
By Jillian Jorgensen Staten Island Advance
“Local Activists Plan Town Hall Meeting”
Sunday, June 12, 2011
As We Are Column By Bea Victor Staten Island Advance
“You have a voice … so use it!”
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
By The Staten Island Advance
“Hike revenue, spare the ax on budget cuts, Staten Islanders tell City Hall”
Listings (thanks to other orgs and movements who like what we’re doing):
You are cordially invited to speak out on the NYC budget and hear about real solutions at the inaugural
Peoples’ Town Hall
Tuesday, June 14, 6:45-9:00 pm
Bernikow-Mid Island JCC | 1466 Manor Road, Staten Island
They say there’s not enough money to fund our senior centers, firehouses, keep our teachers, serve the homeless, ensure our vital services and parks, or invest in good jobs.
The Big Banks that crashed our economy, destroyed thousands of Staten Islanders’ jobs, foreclosed on thousands of Staten Island homes, and bankrupted city and state budgets, now have record profits. Our tax dollars bailed them out, but they refuse to pay their fair share of what it takes to rebuild our economy.
Its time to discuss real budget solutions that allow Mayor Bloomberg to save our jobs, human services, schools, pensions and communities. We have invited our City Council members to hear firsthand the hardships that people in this borough have already seen and what‘s to come if this budget passes. The quality of life for Staten Islanders from St. George to Tottenville is at stake.
STATEN ISLAND SPEAKS OUT ABOUT HOW THE CUTS WILL AFFECT THEM:
“I worked for 25 years as a secretary in the financial services industry. In the fall of
2008 when the financial crisis struck, I lost my job and haven’t been able to find a
good job since then. My husband works in the building trades, and he hasn’t had
much work since 2008 either, so our savings are shot. Now I’ve had to take a job as
a waitress. I haven’t done this kind of work since high school! I don’t know if I’ll
ever be able to retire at this rate.”
–Delores, lifelong Staten Island resident
“I would be in a nursing home, if it weren’t for the senior services that I’m getting.”
A.P., Manor Heights”I watched the fireman from Engine 157 help families escape
the fire on Nicholas Ave last summer. If Engine 157 had not been there, many
more children would have died. Its enough that we lost four children in the fire
that night. Port Richmond does not need to lose any more children.”
–Sean, 15, former resident of Nicholas Avenue
“I have lived in AIDS supportive housing on Staten Island since 1994. It has been a
lifesaver for me. I have a roof over my head, a safe home, constant care of my
health and family needs. I would not have lived this long without AIDS supportive
housing. How could the city possibly consider taking my home and services away
from me now, in the senior years of my life?”
–Eileen Chung, S.I. Advance Woman of Achievement
“I am an immigrant and single mother of three children. I graduated with my GED
in May of 2010. That summer I started my own business. This fall I will enter the
College of Staten Island. My GED is worth the world to me and to the many more
immigrants who want to do better for their families and for our new country.”
–Elizabeth L., Resident, New Brighton
Staten Islanders for Real Budget Solutions
Cordially invites you to a
Peoples’ Town Hall
Speak out on the NYC budget!
Hear about real solutions!
Tuesday, June 14, 6:00-8:30 pm
Bernikow-Mid Island JCC
1466 Manor Road, Staten Island
We hear it every day: “There’s no more money.” No money to keep our senior centers or firehouses open, keep our teachers, serve the homeless, ensure our vital services, invest in good jobs, or help college students graduate.
The proposed NYC budget is set to shut 20 firehouses, gut library, healthcare and parks services and cut thousands of city workers’ jobs.
The Big Banks that crashed our economy, destroyed jobs, caused millions to lose their homes, that bankrupted city and state budgets, and are now reaping record profits, with soaring rates of executive compensation—these banks refuse to pay their fair share of what it takes to rebuild our economy. People in Staten Island have had enough.
Its time to discuss real budget solutions that allow Mayor Bloomberg to save our jobs, human services, schools, pensions and communities.
Lets make our voices heard. We invite our City Council members to hear firsthand the hardships that people in this borough have already seen and what‘s to come if this budget passes. There are alternatives. We’d like to know if they support them.
The Organizing Committee of Staten Islanders for Real Budget Solutions has met weekly since May 11th in different neighborhoods of Staten Island. The group has formed to present fiscal solutions to prevent the devastating budget cuts that the Mayor is proposing. The group has discussed the severe effects that the Mayor’s budget cuts that will have on education on all levels, parks and recreation facilities, youth services, preschool and daycare, health services, housing, senior centers and services, libraries, fire services, alcohol and drug programs, immigrant services, and art programs. The group considered alternate sources of revenue that would protect all services.
The organization’s first event will be a People’s Town Hall Meeting to be held at 7pm, June 14th at the Bernikow, Mid-Island JCC at 1466 Manor Road. The next Organizing Committee meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 2nd. For further information about the next meeting or the Town Hall, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.