Geoff Berman, executive director of the New York State Democratic Committee, issued the following statement on the 2018-2019 budget, blaming the failure of many progressive policy goals on the Independent Democratic Conference — a group of eight senators who were elected as Democrats but often vote with Republicans — and Simcha Felder, a Brooklyn Democrat who caucuses with the G.O.P.
“The Democratic Party applauds Governor Cuomo, the New York State Assembly, and Democrats in the State Senate on the timely passage of the State budget and the progressive accomplishments contained therein: the nation’s strongest laws to combat sexual harassment which will serve as a model for other states and the private sector; taking guns out of the hands of domestic abusers; disclosure mandates of online political advertisements; protections for public sector unions in the face of the Janus decision; additional middle class tax cuts; stronger environmental protections; record funding for education; the expansion of the Excelsior College Tuition Program; an historic state investment in NYCHA; design build to expedite the closure of Rikers; and the ‘no child goes hungry’ program – all of these are transformative achievements that will move New York forward.
“This budget also, for the first time, creates true transparency in school-by-school funding to achieve education equity, changes the state tax code to protect us from the Trump tax bill that eliminates the deduction of state and local taxes, introduces phase 1 of Congestion Pricing, increases protections for immigrants, and expands funding for community school and access to universal Pre-K.
“The budget builds on the progressive progress of the last seven years that has made New York the progressive capital of the nation once again, thanks to:
- Marriage Equality
- The SAFE Act: the nation’s strongest gun safety laws
- $15 minimum wage
- The nation’s strongest Paid Family Leave Program
- The only Special Prosecutor in the Country in cases where law enforcement officers are
- involved in deaths of unarmed civilians
- Free college tuition for middle class families
- Banning Fracking
- A more progressive tax code that extends the millionaire’s tax
- Ending fingerprinting for food stamps
- Ending the AIDS epidemic in New York by 2020
- The closure of 24 prisons and juvenile detention facilities, and more
“At the same time, we echo Governor Cuomo’s disappointment with the progressive measures that were not enacted in this year’s budget.
The fact that additional gun safety measures, early voting, speedy trial, bail and discovery reform, the codification of Roe v. Wade, the Contraceptive Care Act, stronger campaign finance reforms, the closure of the LLC loophole, the ban on outside income for legislators, the Child’s Victim Act, and the Dream Act, among other measures that failed, are all lost opportunities for progress in New York. These are measures the Governor and Democrats pushed for.
“There is one reason these measures failed: the Republican Senate adamantly refused to pass each and every one of them. The answer is to elect and force unification of 32 Democrats – a majority of the Senate.
“Governor Cuomo has been clear: Once we have 32 Democratic Senate members, any Democratic senator who does not forge unity or fosters division is disloyal to the party and we shall and will unite to defeat them. We cannot and we will not tolerate any continued division or individual power struggles within the Senate Democratic Conference — that will only serve to divert attention away from winning Republican held seats and truly turning the State Senate blue. Unification must be realized, and the intramural politics must end once and for all.
“We have the opportunity to elect the 32nd member on April 24th in the Special Senate Elections. We must follow Governor Cuomo’s charge and campaign night and day to elect Shelly Mayer and Luis Sepulveda to the State Senate.
“Advancing the issues that matter most to New Yorkers will only be realized once a Democratic majority is achieved.”