ALBANY, N.Y. February 22, 2011 - New York State United Teachers today launched a new statewide, million-dollar television ad campaign declaring that New York's schoolchildren should not suffer deep budget cuts so millionaires can enjoy tax breaks.
The television campaign - beginning today and lasting until at least March 3 - is the 600,000-member union's latest move in a broad campaign to persuade state lawmakers to reverse $1.5 billion in school aid cuts that have already prompted many school boards to move toward adopting budgets with significantly larger class sizes; elimination of programs that help students learn; and layoffs of teachers and school staff.
"New Yorkers strongly oppose cuts to its public schools and colleges. They clearly understand the executive budget, as presented, would erase the progress that public education has made," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "Now, it's time for the governor and Legislature to step up and protect public education from great harm, and to ensure the theme of 'shared sacrifice' includes all New Yorkers, including the most affluent."
The 30-second ad, entitled "Lecture," features a Wall Street hedge fund manager or corporate executive lecturing someone in an oversized chair in his plush office. He condescendingly says, "Look... the current market environment demands massive budget cuts... tax breaks and subsidies for the rich and powerful... and, yes, some sacrifices from people like you. Is that so hard to understand?"
The camera then pans to two frightened schoolchildren, cowering in the chair. The narrator intones, "Have you ever noticed, in tough times, who's asked to make sacrifices and who isn't?" An on-screen graphic declares: "Tell Albany: Please don't sacrifice their education for tax breaks for millionaires." The ad is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVoJzsnR3Ic and concludes with a little boy angrily scolding the pompous corporate executive, "You need a time out!"
"This ad, in a very clear way, lays out for New Yorkers an absurdity in the proposed executive budget," said NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta. "Schools face $1.5 billion in budget cuts, which would devastate services that students need and lead to the layoffs of thousands of middle-class New Yorkers, while at the same time the Governor and Legislature are considering a $1.2 billion tax cut for wealthy New Yorkers who don't need it and don't deserve it."
The ads will air in the Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Elmira, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Hudson Valley and Watertown markets, as well in Long Island and New York City and its suburbs. The commercial will also appear through web-based advertising.
Several thousand educators and parents were expected to rally Thursday night on Long Island. More than 300 NYSUT members visited legislators in their Albany offices on Tuesday. And, NYSUT and an ally, New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, recently unveiled a website – www.badcapcitynews.com – that uses satire to show the devastating impact of an ill-conceived property tax cap on schools and local governments.
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents more than 600,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.