People's State of State held in Albany
Jan 05, 2017 12:04 am
Rick Karlin reports in the Capitol Confidential that the 27th People’s State of the State speech went on as usual Jan. 3 in Albany, with several dozen anti-poverty, social, and labor activists gathered in front of the state capitol. The GOP Congress wants to do away with Obamacare, which activists say could put a huge financial dent into New York’s Medicaid program. Other concerns centered on Trump’s choice of a climate change skeptic to head the EPA and a businessman who has opposed minimum wage increases as labor secretary. “New York has the opportunity to serve as a beacon and a sanctuary for the people of the nation facing troubling times,” said Sara Niccoli, executive director of the Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State. “The poor are the ones most harmed by climate change,” added Mark Dunlea of the Green Education and Legal Fund. One of the main in-state battles that advocates may face this year centers on whether the ”millionaires tax” will expire at the end of the year or be extended said Ron Deutsch executive director of the labor-backed Fiscal Policy Institute. The tax, which applies to families with incomes above $2 million, is set to drop from 8.82 percent to the regular top state rate of 6.85 percent. But many advocates as well as Assembly Democrats want to keep in place rather than forego what they say would be a $3.7 billion revenue loss to the state. There were several allusions to the current state of affairs during the approximately 45 minute gathering, including a closing prayer by Peter Cook, executive director at the state Council of Churches. He urged participants not to get distracted by Tweets or ”fake news,” both of which loomed large in the most recent elections. Mark Emanation of the Capital District Area Labor Federation spoke of striking and locked out union workers at two area-factories — Momentive in Waterford and Honeywell in Green Island — where disputes over issues such as health care coverage and pensions have dragged on for months. “This is going to be a hell of a year,” he added. Participants included the Hunger Action Network, FOCUS Churches, Reform Jewish Voice of NYS, Campaign for NY Health, Alliance for Quality Education, Strong Economy for All, Sisters of St. Joseph, St. Vincent DePaul as well as the Faith and Hunger Network and Episcopal Public Policy Network. Read the full story in Capitol Confidential.