ALBANY, N.Y. January 7, 2009 - While Gov. David Paterson's State of the State message paints a grim picture of New York's finances, New York State United Teachers today said middle-class families can be spared the deep pain caused by cuts to public education and health care.
"We agree with the governor that the road ahead will be difficult, but how New York recovers from this crisis depends on the route it chooses," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "Maintaining New York's investment in public education - at a time when schools are making progress ending the achievement gap and families are increasingly turning to SUNY, CUNY and community colleges for education and training - is the best way to get the state's economy moving forward again."
Iannuzzi noted, "There are alternatives to an executive budget of deep pain, and we applaud the governor for taking the lead and making a strong case in Washington for New York's fair share of federal stimulus money.
"The alternatives, however, must also include asking the wealthiest New Yorkers to pay their fair share. For too long, New York's working families have shouldered a disproportionate share of the tax burden, while the most affluent have seen their incomes skyrocket and their income taxes shrink," Iannuzzi said.
NYSUT Executive Vice President Alan B. Lubin agreed, saying, "Asking the most affluent New Yorkers to pay a slightly higher personal income tax would enable the state to better maintain its commitment to education and health care."
Lubin said the 600,000-member union is committed to working with the governor and Legislature to achieve a fair budget and get New York back on the right road. "The door is open. There is plenty of room in the proposed budget - and in the governor's State of the State address - to find common ground and meet the needs of public schools and colleges."
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.