Elected officials, parents and organizers joined the Invest in Our New York coalition (IONY) gathered in Albany to urge Governor Kathy Hochul and state lawmakers to advance key community investments.
Speaking at the Albany Capitol building on March 28, participants demanded that Hochul abandon her recently announced plan to roll back some bail reform laws and instead focus on prioritizing the needs of working families.
The IONY proposed campaign’s budget prioritizes investments in housing, child care, healthcare, the environment, and community-based violence prevention programs.
“We are here to call on the legislature and to pass a budget that is just, to pass a New York State budget that accounts for the demands and the needs of the communities we represent,” said Jawanza Williams, Director of Organizing, VOCAL-NY Housing Justice for All and Alliance for Quality Education. “So we are here again to call for critical investments for priorities for the governor’s New York State budget, so we need the legislature to make sure that our priorities are met.”
Other speakers emphasized the inequity of budget funding distribution proposed in Gov. Hochul’s Fiscal Year 2023 Executive State Budget (FY2023). IONY coalition members believed Hochul needed to invest the budget surplus created in 2021 following a series of revenue-raising victories, as well as a portion of FY 2023 towards early childhood education, universal childcare, higher education, social housing, and climate justice programs as a “common-sense” approach to driving economic growth and building broader prosperity in New York.
“I am here as a parent and I am mad,” said Stevie Vargas of Alliance for Quality Education. “I woke up at six am to drive here with my baby because I and so many families in New York State do not have access to childcare. Either because we live in a childcare desert where there are no available slots, or because it is not affordable. And that is not allowing New York State parents, caregivers and people to get back to work. I have had to turn down countless opportunities. I find myself having to give 100% of my energy to being a good mother and 100% of my energy fighting for New Yorkers everywhere. New York State is not supporting New Yorkers in the way we need so we can all thrive.”
Members gathered also emphasized the importance of taxing the wealthy and utilizing those funds to uplift and support needy communities across the state.
“Listen, I have been in office for 15 months and in those 15 months we’ve rallied together to tax the rich,” said Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas. “And now the state is flush with money, and this is something that the governor will say as well. We have unprecedented amounts of cash coming out of this pandemic. The rich have still gotten richer coming out of this pandemic. And yet, we are not investing in the solutions that we know will serve our community and lift us all up together.”
Further speakers highlighted how they believed that while the role of state legislature was to support every member of the community, this wasn’t happening and in fact, state leaders were failing in their duties to represent their constituents.
“I believe that we should be investing in homecare, in coverage for all, in CUNY and in all of these other wonderful initiatives,” said Assemblymember Emily Gallagher. “But instead we are using that money towards incarceration, towards policing and towards things that actually take away people’s opportunities and people’s lives. So I’m here to say that we can do things differently. We have the toolkit, we have the ability to choose what we are investing in and I believe that investing in our New York looks like this community here.”
Last updated 3/29/2022 9:04 am