Cahill: Assembly Budget Protects Education, Health Care

Proposal Restores Funding to Public Services While Rejecting Tax Cuts for Millionaires
March 16, 2011

Albany – Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D-Ulster, Dutchess) announced the Assembly passed a budget proposal that protects programs for financially struggling families, children with special needs, and senior citizens while rejecting tax cuts for New York State’s wealthiest.

“Over the last several weeks, I’ve heard from many people and important organizations in our community. They wanted cuts, but not cuts that cripple the institution and services we rely on,” said Assemblymember Cahill.

Under the executive budget, millionaire tax rates would drop from 8.97 percent to 6.85 percent, the same rate paid by New Yorkers making $20,000 a year. Instead, the Assembly’s budget maintains the current rate and directs 30 percent of the revenue – a projected 30 percent of $706 million in 2011-12, and of $2.65 billion in 2012-13 – to the Educational Assistance Fund, with the balance going toward cash-starved programs and services.

“With a $10 billion deficit and scores of detrimental cuts on the table, including sizeable reductions in critical education and health care programs, now is not the time to give millionaires a tax break,” Assemblymember Cahill said. “We must pursue options that provide solutions to the inequities in the system. That’s why I helped pass an Assembly budget that does not favor the state’s privileged few, which constitutes for less than half a percent of the resident population, over working families and students.”

In addition to the extension of the income tax surcharge on high earners, the Assembly budget proposal includes restoring tens of millions to programs such as Early Intervention for New York’s most vulnerable citizens, while rejecting an increase for co-pays for Medicaid, Family Health Plus, and Child Health Plus.

“Now is not the time to increase the cost for medical care for New Yorkers in need,” said Assemblymember Cahill. “By imposing higher co-pays and cutting funding to these vital programs, we will be depriving children and families of crucial treatment and abandoning our duty as public servants to protect our state’s disadvantaged population.”

The Assembly’s budget plan also restores $34 million in prescription drug aid for seniors through the State’s Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) program. Currently, the EPIC program provides for over 300,000 enrollees with secondary coverage for prescription drug costs.

“No one should have to choose between medicine and other necessities like food and housing,” said Assemblymember Cahill. “New York needs to do more with less and that requires creative thinking and new approaches to funding important initiatives. Gutting programs without first exploring creative ways to protect them is ill advised and I am glad we were able to help seniors make ends meet by defending EPIC.”