Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Where Do We Go From Here?

With elections behind us, it's time to think about next year's issue campaigns. We're considering a whole range of campaigns -- some where we think we can score real victories in the coming year, and some that are long-term efforts to move the debate. Below are some of the issues we're considering. A poll is up will be going up soon; in the meantime feel free to comment on these (or suggest more!) here.

Winnable Issues for 2007

Fair Funding for Schools. New York's courts have repeatedly ruled that the state needs to increase funding for New York City schools to fulfill its Constitutional duty to provide a decent education for every New York child, but the Pataki administration has refused to comply. Governor Spitzer has pledged to give New York and other struggling school districts the fair funding they need. The role of the WFP is to make sure he holds out for the full amount and help him get the funding increase through the legislature.

Protecting Health Care. State government is proposing to close dozens of hospitals, working families continue to lose employer-sponsored insurance, and there is talk of deep cuts in Medicaid benefits. The WFP's role is to preserve health insurance for working New Yorkers, and to increase the number of eligible workers and children enrolled in public programs.<>Paid Sick Days. Hundreds of thousands of New York workers do not have a single paid day off for illness a year, and millions more cannot use them to care for a sick child or parent. New York should require employers to provide paid sick days.

Reforming Corporate Subsidies. New York's system of "economic development" tax breaks are wasteful, poorly targeted, lack a track record of creating jobs, and do not impose any meaningful standards on businesses that receive them. The WFP supports creating clear, binding job-creation and wage standards for IDA subsidies.

Affordable Housing. The WFP supports strengthening rent regulations in New York City to preserve the existing stock of affordable housing and in other areas – especially the suburbs – the WFP supports "inclusionary zoning" laws that will encourage developers to include a percentage of affordable units in any new development.

Environmentally-Smart Building Codes. An easy way to clean up our environment, create jobs and reduce reliance on imported oil is to bring buildings in line with the latest environmental standards. As a first step, government should require high levels of energy efficiency in its own buildings.

Long-term campaigns

Universal Health Care. Our health care system leaves millions of New Yorkers uninsured and millions more with insecure coverage, while driving up costs for everyone. The only long-term solution is to move to a single, universal health insurance program covering everyone.

Progressive Taxation. New York State has the greatest gap between rich and poor of any state in the nation. One reason is that we have drastically cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy, while raising the taxes paid by working families, like property and sales taxes. A comprehensive tax reform program would provide tax relief for working New Yorkers by reversing some of the recent cuts for the best-off.

Strengthening Unions. Unions are necessary to counterbalance the power of employers and defend the interests of workers. The right to join a union is fundamental to a free society, but federal labor law fails to protect that right. Federal reform is need, and in the meantime New York state can to more to make sure workers who want to join a union are able to do so.

Family Friendly Workplaces. It's too hard for working families to balance the demands of work and caring for their loved ones. In addition to paid sick days, the state should establish a system of Paid Family Leave like California's and do more to support affordable childcare.

Energy Independence. We need a new "Apollo Program" to develop sustainable energy sources, reduce reliance on fossil fuels, increase energy efficiency and create 21st-century jobs in New York.

Now it's your turn to weigh in - take the WFP 2007 Priorities Survey.


don shaffer said...

There a number of reasons why progressive taxation is both the short and long term issue for WFP.
1-it unites both lower and middle income if we deal with both sales,payroll, fees and property tax.
2-it unites both suburbs and cities.
3-it is the essential CLASS issue and takes it away from the right wing
4-every social program which we support e.g. education, health, housing,clean air, water,mass transit - you name it- is always opposed based on the need for tax income to pay for it. Since the tax structure is overwhelmingly regressive even many of the beneficiaries of the programs we support end up opposing it
5--we are not asking for higher taxes--we are asking for tax cuts for the vast majority and tax increases only for a few--who can well afford it and have received enormous tax subsidies in the past years from both the state and federal govt.
6--its fair and the right thing to do--many high income earners support progressive taxes.
7-- no one else is prepared to take it on
8-- its politically possible-eg the 2003 state income 1% tax on incomes over 150,000 and 2% over 500,000
9- it has political work opportunities on the federal, state and local levels.
10-it reduces inequality--the income gap is reduced

Peter Hogness said...

I liked the WFP video ad with the Pete Seeger song, encouraging folks to vote on the WFP line as a way to demand an end to the war in Iraq. And I'm glad that the WFP supports the McGovern Amendment, to cut off funds for continuation of this senseless waste of lives and money.
So how come the war in Iraq isn't listed anywhere on the WFP issues list, even as a longer-term issue? Was this video ad just a cynical play for progressive votes-- or will it be backed up by some actual organizing?
Mainly this is important because WFP can play a real role in helping to end this war. But it's also important as an issue of the party's credibility.

Anonymous said...

The "core" issue for our party should be the card-check bill (EFCA). The party should put it's full weight behind this legislation.

Workers should be free from employer interference when forming a labor union by just signing a card or petition and having a neutral party determine majority status.

It would do a lot for the standard of living in NYS, by every member of our party to encourage their family, friends and neighbors to form a labor union in their workplace.