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.
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.