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The Unkindest Cuts

May 19, 2010

By Carol Boyd

This past Monday evening, they came from across the entire city: from Staten Island to the Bronx, parents, teachers, students, labor unions, faith based and civil rights organizations, arts advocates, elected officials, the soon-to-be-elected, community groups and concerned citizens gathered to begin their annual duel to restore cuts to education to the State budget.  For many, it was a reunion of sorts as they had been veterans of both last year’s One New York and the 2008 Keep the Promises budget coalitions as well as the 14-year Campaign for Fiscal Equity battle.

In the midst of such a dire fiscal crisis, one might deem those in attendance to be either idealistically naive or just plain out of their minds, but these were seasoned knights of the budget roundtable and they did not gather solely to commiserate over the current economic state but to propose viable solutions.  Over the past few years, the veteran soldiers of budget wars past have been responsible for the acquisition and/or restoration of billions of dollars in funding to the state education budget.

To that end, the members of the 2010 For Our Kids Coalition have proposed that the following  measures be implemented to increase revenue to the state and eliminate proposed cuts to the budget for education and other essential services:

Bankers Bonus Tax – Temporary 2-year tax on bonuses paid to those earning in excess of $250,000 per year would generate $5-7 billion

Millionaire Tax – Addition of income brackets to increase tax rate on those earning over $1 million per year and those earning over $5 million per year would yield revenue of approximately $1.7 billion

Fair Taxes for Corporations – Elimination of loopholes that allow corporations to avoid paying full share of taxes could produce more than $1.5 billion per year in added funds

By my guesstimate, the three assessments above could line the State’s coffers with about $9.2 billion in increased annual revenue, close the State’s budget gap, and aid in leveling the taxation playing field. The potential loss of 6,500 teaching jobs, arts, music, sports, enrichment and after school programs should not occur at the expense of innocent school children to plug budget holes created by reckless, avaricious Wall Street  adults. After all, it wasn’t the children who created this financial crisis, and for those children from low-income homes, it wasn’t their parents either.

Let’s not continue to whittle away at an already underfunded education budget (remember that promise of CFE $$$?).  Instead, let’s place the burden on the shoulders of those from whence this all came.  Not only is this morally fair, it makes darn good sense and, generates revenue too.  In the midst of record Wall Street profits and excessively high bonuses, why should those who have so little have even less, and those who have always had continue to have even more?

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