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June 19, 2003

Council blasts reports of $100 million in new spending for health workers' union

The Business Council has blasted reports that the Legislature is considering new government spending that would earmark more than $100 million for a powerful union leader.

"Another taxpayer-funded handout for Dennis Rivera? New York doesn't need it and New Yorkers don't want it," said Business Council President Daniel B. Walsh. Rivera is head of the politically powerful health-care workers union, 1199 SEIU.

"If reports in the New York Sun and elsewhere are accurate, a 'technical cleanup' bill moving through the Legislature includes new spending in excess of $100 million. The purpose of this spending is to provide health insurance, at taxpayer expense, to unionized health-care workers," Walsh said.

The Legislature recently imposed heavy new tax increases to fund nearly $1.3 billion in extra spending beyond what Governor George Pataki had proposed-even though the state faced a debt of almost $12 billion, Walsh said.

"New spending, in our current fiscal straits, is the last thing we need," he said.

"If New York really has $100 million lying around, the Legislature should return it to taxpayers by reducing the tax increases it just dumped on New Yorkers."

The full text of Walsh's statement is at www.bcnys.org/whatsnew/2003/0619dw.htm.