Green Party Slams Secrecy in State Budget Negotiations

Calls for More Funding for Green Jobs, Higher Ed, Bottle Bill

The Green Party today criticized state Democratic lawmakers for negotiating this year’s state budget in virtual secrecy. So far lawmakers have refused to pass budget resolutions in each house, hold public leaders meetings, or convene budget conference committee.

“Voters elect lawmakers to represent them, not to treat a $120 billion state budget as their personal treasury to dole out to campaign contributors behind close doors. The minimal reforms in the budget process enacted in recent years have been buried now that the Democrats are the majority in both houses as well as being the Governor. With our economy and government in shambles following decades of criminal collusion between Wall Street gamblers and politicians, now more than ever we need transparency in this budget process,” stated Peter LaVenia, state co-chair of the Green Party of NYS.

While the Green Party is hopeful that lawmakers will agree to raise the personal income tax rate on the wealthiest New Yorkers, they want to stop rebating the $9 billion stock transfer tax to Wall Street in order to discourage speculation in the financial markets. They also faulted Governor Paterson and lawmakers for failing to enact stronger climate change policies, including a carbon tax on all fossil fuels. The Greens said that the State needs to be more aggressive in ensuring that all New Yorkers have a living wage job.

“We are in the eye of the storm of Wall Street corruption, feeling the sun come out, the advertising fade, the obscenity of the wealth-circus suddenly clear to all. Let's return to the common sense of compassion, local sustainable economies, justice for the vulnerable and the enforcement of our basic freedoms” said Rev. Billy Talen, who is running Mayor of New York City on the Green Party’s line.

The Green Party faulted the Democrats for stalling on enacting the Bigger Better Bottle Bill, both to include juice and water bottles and to return the $200 million in unclaimed deposits annually to the state treasury.

“The bottle bill is a common sense environmental reform that has widespread support among the public. The only opposition is by the bottling companies and a few other special interests that are plowing millions of dollars into politicians’ pockets to defeat it. If the Democrats can’t even pass this small step now that Senator Bruno is no longer blocking it, there is a little chance of enacting the far more fundamental changes needed to help our state survive this economic collapse and build an economy for the new century,” stated Eric Jones, the other Co-Chair of the Green Party of NYS.

The Green Party noted that the state could save tax dollars if it finally repealed the Rockefeller Drug Laws. More then 13,000 persons are serving time in New York’s prisons for non-violent drug offenses. Repealing these laws would save the State approximately $270 millions a year.

It also said that while the Governor was correct to try to use Medicaid dollars to provide primary care to patients rather than as a slush fund for health care special interest, the real solution was a single payer health care system that would save New Yorkers tens of billions of dollars annually by eliminating the waste and profits of for profit private health insurance.

The Green Party wants the cuts in human services, housing and education programs restored, including a larger hike in the welfare grant. It opposes the $80 million cut in the state supplement to SSI.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]