2016 Moral Agenda
New York is the most unequal state in the US. In fact, if our state were a country, it would be the 20th most unequal in the world – more unequal than 90 percent of the world’s nations.
That means that while we are a state of great wealth, many of our fellow New Yorkers are struggling. Today, more than 3 million New Yorkers live in poverty, including more than 1 in 5 of New York’s children. Millions more live on the edge of poverty without access to adequate housing, education, healthcare, or living wage jobs.
This is a moral issue. New York has the resources to end poverty in our state and ensure that all residents can have a decent life.
For people of conscience, 2016 will be a year of continued struggle for justice – from wage increases to tax fairness, expanding health care to getting money out of politics, fair funding for schools to preserving our environment for our children, securing the rights of workers to protecting the most vulnerable in society.
In 2016 we will make our voices heard, stand in solidarity with workers and those in poverty, and continue to fight for a New York that works for all.
The minimum wage in New York is far too low. Work must prevent people from being in poverty, not keep them mired in it. A fair wage is a moral necessity and must be implemented for all workers in New York, no exceptions.
Every year, 2.1 million New Yorkers are victims of wage theft, totaling $3.2 billion in lost wages and benefits. Wage theft occurs when workers are paid less than minimum wage, are told to work off-the-clock, or have illegal deductions taken from their paychecks.
All children deserve a quality education, regardless of where they live. While some New York State public schools offer the best educational opportunities in the world, many students are left struggling in underfunded schools- and the difference largely comes down to funding. It’s time to provide a high quality education for all students.
Get Money Out of Politics
New York has some of the highest financial contribution limits in the country, and this results in a broken system where the wealthiest in the state dictate policy through paid-for legislators. The arrest and conviction of legislative leaders last year is a clarion call for tough ethics reforms and limiting outside income. Elected officials need to work for everyone in their electorate, not just their wealthy benefactors.
New York is the most unequal state in the nation, and our taxation system continues to place a higher burden on poor and middle class people than on the wealthiest. A progressive tax structure would insure that the wealthiest pay their fair share, providing the revenue necessary to strengthen the middle class and lift people out of poverty by fully supporting needed social services.
Though fracking has been prohibited in New York, fossil fuel infrastructure projects continue to be proposed and advanced. A sustainable, clean energy future will require investment in green energy production, and a halt to dirty, harmful fossil fuel expansion.
Healthcare For All
Healthcare is a human right. While some strides have been made to provide options and affordable coverage, far too many are left lacking adequate health care.
Provide Paid Family Leave
The United States the only developed country in the world that does not offer some form of paid family leave. Caring for elderly or sick family members, or welcoming a child into the world should not be an economic hardship.
2015 exposed massive corruption within the New York State prison system, with impunity for guards who commit abuse, the ongoing torture of inmates in solitary confinement, and continuing to imprison youths as though they are adults. A move towards justice requires genuine accountability, expansive rehabilitative measures and programming, and support for those returning to society after imprisonment.
Strengthen the Social Safety Net
While those with the highest incomes continue to buy themselves tax credits and exemptions, those at the bottom struggle with leaner services. No one should be turned away from food pantries, and no one should be denied the assistance they need to stay in, or heat their home.