Hawkins Urges Cuomo to Join Him in Opposing Paterson's Cuts to State Safety Net

Howie Hawkins for Governor
Green Party - www.howiehawkins.org

For Release:
June 9, 2010

For More Info:
Howie Hawkins, 315 425-1019

 

(Syracuse) Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Governor, urged Andrew Cuomo to join him in calling upon Governor Paterson to avoid deep cuts to the state's safety net in next week's budget extender.

 

"As the Green Party candidate for Governor, I oppose balancing the state budget on the backs of poor people as Paterson proposes. Mr. Cuomo's agenda says he wants to protect the state's safety net. He should stand behind his rhetoric by joining me in calling upon the Governor to reject the proposed cuts in the state's TANF programs. We should instead use the $638 million windfall in federal welfare dollars as intended, to create jobs and increase benefits for the state's most vulnerable members. Unfortunately, Paterson wants to divert these funds intended to help poor New Yorkers into general budget relief while refusing to make the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes," said Hawkins.

 

Cuomo's "New NY Agenda" says that "especially in times of crisis, we must continue to provide social safety net services, such as food and shelter to those in need. It is a moral imperative...We must preserve the social safety net for the most vulnerable among us." Cuomo goes on to promise that he "will ensure that key programs receive adequate funding to protect vulnerable children and families."

 

"If Cuomo really believes what his Agenda says, Cuomo should speak up now, while it counts, before these cuts to poor people's assistance go through,” Hawkins added.

 

The federal government, as part of the economic stimulus package, is making more than $1 billion in extra TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) dollars available to New York to help families with children below 200% of poverty. State initiatives to provide jobs for welfare participants or to provide one-time payments (e.g., the $200 benefit for children receiving food stamps / SNAP) are eligible for a 4 to 1 match (federal to state dollars). Even though the state is eligible for $638 million in this budget cycle, Paterson has proposed cutting funding for job programs for TANF individuals from $70 to $18 million; reducing the long-awaited increase in the basic welfare grant approved last year (from 10% to 5%, a savings of $18 million); and slashing TANF funding for a host of homeless prevention, youth employment and other human service programs.

 

Hawkins has called for a range of progressive tax initiatives to erase the state budget deficit, including a more progressive income tax that increases taxes on millionaires, a Banker's Bonus Tax, and a halt to the rebate of the Stock Transfer Tax. Cuomo, however, has opposed any increased taxes on the wealthy and the big Wall Street financial institutions.

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