ALBANY, N.Y. February 9, 2009 - New York State United Teachers will launch a new media campaign Tuesday, taking to the airwaves to tell New Yorkers that devastating cuts to public education and health care can be avoided - if Albany asks the wealthy to pay their fair share of income taxes.
"Education and health care are vital public services and the foundation of the state's economy. The billions of dollars in cuts proposed for schools and health care institutions would trigger tens of thousands of layoffs, while hurting society's most vulnerable - students, the poor, the sick - at precisely the time they are counting on strong public services to help them through this crisis," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "Our state's leaders must see that there is another way - a better way - to close the budget deficit without slashing spending on programs that help working families."
The 30-second ad, called "Preview," initially appears to be a preview for a Hollywood motion picture. A deep-voiced announcer says New York "is a place where the American dream is in danger," where "deep cuts threaten public schools, colleges and health care, and "where working families pay the same top tax rate as millionaires." Later, with families at risk, the film breaks up and the announcer says New Yorkers want "a different ending to this story - we can get through these tough times, but only if the wealthiest pay their fair share."
Beginning Tuesday, the NYSUT ad will air on commercial television and radio in eight upstate markets and on cable TV on Long Island and in the New York City suburbs. The ad is airing on network affiliates in Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Elmira, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica and Watertown. It is also being shown on News 12 stations on Long Island and in the New York City suburbs, as well as on CNN, the Weather Channel, Discovery, TNT, TBS and other major cable networks.
In keeping with the movie preview theme, the ad will also be shown in theaters from Brooklyn to Buffalo beginning Feb. 13.
NYSUT Executive Vice President Alan B. Lubin noted the $1.5 million campaign, paid for by the union's political action funds, reinforces numerous opinion polls. "New York voters overwhelmingly support asking the most affluent - those earning more than $250,000 a year - to pay more in income taxes to preserve education and health care programs," he said.
Lubin noted the Fiscal Policy Insitute, a think tank, reports that New York has cut its top personal income tax rate by more than 50 percent since 1976, from 15.375 percent to 6.85 percent. The top tax rate is currently the same for New Yorkers earning $40,000 or $400,000 or $4 million - a year, Lubin said. In fact, he added, tax cuts enacted just since 1994 are reducing state revenues up to $20.5 billion annually.
"The lion's share of the Pataki tax cuts went to the richest New Yorkers. Working New Yorkers are paying a disproportionate share of not only income taxes, but property taxes," Lubin said. "A small increase in the income tax on the most affluent New Yorkers would raise up to $7 billion a year in new revenue. It would enable the state to protect public education and health care services, while preserving the jobs of thousands of working New Yorkers."
Lubin said NYSUT believes a combination of cost efficiencies and budget trimming - along with federal stimulus money and new revenue from the more progressive income tax - would allow public schools and colleges to maintain programs and staff at near-current levels. "We look forward to continuing the progress New York's students and their schools are making."
Note: For an electronic copy of the ad, call (518) 213-6000, ext. 6313 or go to the NYSUT Web site, www.nysut.org.
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents more than 600,000 classroom teachers and other school employees; faculty and other professionals at the state's community colleges, State University of New York and City University of New York, and other education and health professionals. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.