Advocacy groups held the 24th annual People’s State of the State today, pushing for an end income inequality, more money for schools and aid to limit homelessness.
The groups made their pitch in single-digit weather outside the Capitol a day before Gov. Andrew Cuomo will give his State of the State address. Cuomo plans to propose $2 billion in property-tax relief, added aid for schools and relief for areas hard hit by storms in recent years.
But the advocacy groups and labor-backed organizations, including the Hunger Action Network and the Labor-Religion Coalition, said Cuomo needs to do more to help struggling New Yorkers. They contended that the richest 1 percent of New Yorkers receive about 35 percent of the state’s income, the greatest disparity since before the Great Recession in the 1930s.
They released a progress report on Cuomo’s tenure since taking office in 2011.
“How is the Governor doing in tax fairness, education, job creation, minimum wage, hunger, and child poverty? Well, he doesn’t quite meet expectations,” said Mark Dunlea, executive director of the Hunger Action Network. “Significant improvement will be required if he wants to graduate.”
The advocacy groups asked Cuomo to address specific issues in his address: The groups are pushing for the state to invest $1.9 billion in new school aid, raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour and provide $10 million in additional funding for emergency food programs.
Cuomo and the state Legislature this year increased the minimum wage to $8 an hour and it’ll increase to $9 an hour in 2015.
The groups said that the number of people receiving help from emergency food programs has doubled since 2007. But they noted that Cuomo increased aid for hunger programs by $4.5 million at Thanksgiving and created an anti-hunger task force.
A majority of children in three upstate cities, Rochester, Schenectady and Syracuse, lived in poverty in 2011, with Rochester ranking seventh in the nation, U.S. Census data in 2012 showed.
Rochester had 54 percent of its youth under age 18 living in poverty,
They charged that some of Cuomo’s tax policies would benefit the rich, such as tax cuts proposed for businesses.
Susan Weber, an Albany resident and organizer with MoveOn.org dressed up as the “one percent” to protest tax inequality in the state.
“We’re here to highlight the disparities in income in the state of New York and ask the governor and the government to address the needs of the poor,” Weber said. “It’s cold today, we get to go to our homes, we can be warm and toasty, but there are a lot of people who are suffering.”