March 17, 2003
Advocates stage marches, hold news conferences, buy ads to pump spending
With busloads of lobbyists, reams of press releases, and endless news conferences, countless pro-spending advocates have intensified pressure on lawmakers to increase spending or enact other policies that would, in turn, intensify pressure for tax increases.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), state Nurses Association, the Health-care Association of New York State, New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), and other pressure groups added their voices to the growing din in Albany for more government spending. For example:
health-care associations issued a joint release protesting
what they called "cuts" in Medicaid spending.
Actually, the Executive Budget would increase total state Medicaid spending by about $1.3 billion. New York's Medicaid spending is two and a half times the national average. It is more than the entire budgets in 40 other states.
sent busloads of people to Albany to protest funding proposals
that it said would affect its members.
- NYPIRG mounted student protests against proposals to increase SUNY and CUNY tuition. That tuition has been unchanged for seven years, and is lower than state university tuition in neighboring states such as Pennsylvania and Vermont.
Pro-spending groups are already pressuring Albany to raise taxes. Public-employee unions and The Fiscal Policy Institute, which receives funding from those same unions, have strongly supported an increase in personal-income taxes that would affect hundreds of thousands of New York households, including many union households. The proposal would be especially serious for small businesses, many of which pay business taxes through the personal income tax.
And a group called "New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness" (NYFF), which includes unions and advocates of higher social spending, has been airing television ads to urge more government spending and higher taxes to make it possible. Specifically, the ads have proposed closing "corporate loopholes" and raising personal income taxes by seven-tenths of 1 percent on incomes of more than $100,000 and by 1.4 percent on incomes of more than $200,000. Their list of corporate tax proposals would cost businesses more than $1.4 billion a year, by their estimate.
In its own statewide ad campaign and in a variety of reports and analyses, The Business Council and The Public Policy Institute have repeatedly shown that state spending, not a revenue shortfall, is at the root of the state's fiscal challenge.