NEW YORK – New York State Assembly Member Aravella Simotas released the following statement concerning the 2020-21 State Budget:
As a legislator, I took an oath to work towards improving the lives of the citizens of New York State. These are challenging times for our state, and our country, and my duty obliges me to take whatever action is in my power to prevent the health pandemic sweeping the world from destroying the foundations upon which my community was built. I voted against the 2020-2021 Budget because its revenue provisions are irresponsible and some of its policy proposals are reprehensible. Moreover, the Budget did not contain key proposals that are desperately needed to ensure that working families can get through the COVID-19 crisis.
The Budget did not contain any commonsense reforms to generate the revenue needed to fund our state’s needs. We had a host of different proposals to choose from, including a billionaire’s wealth tax, an ultra-millionaire’s income tax, a pied-a-tierre tax on luxury homes, a tax on stock buy backs or mezzanine debt, but the Budget did not contain any.
The Budget froze Foundation Aid and denies our schools the funding they are rightfully owed. Our state has an obligation to support all schools, and particularly those in the highest need districts by funding the Foundation Aid formula. Depriving schools of adequate resources to support economically disadvantaged students will only exacerbate educational disparities in the state. New York State has a responsibility to make long-term, sustainable investments in our schools so that all students can thrive.
The Budget imposed draconian cuts to Medicaid that will leave public hospitals under-resourced to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and deprive low-income patients in high risk populations of care they desperately need. We have yet to reach the apex of this public health crisis, and with increasing job losses, more New Yorkers will be turning to Medicaid. Hospitals are already struggling to keep up with the influx of coronavirus patients and our frontline health care workers are reaching a breaking point in the epicenter of the pandemic. We should be supporting the health care professionals working to save lives by upholding our commitment to the patients and facilities that need all the aid we can give.
The Budget did not include any meaningful protections for tenants that lost their jobs during this health emergency and are likely to be at risk of losing their homes. We need to do more to ensure New Yorkers will not be burdened with payment of back rent when the crisis is over. The only way to get working families through this is to cancel rent. This Budget also failed to adopt the Home Stability Support program to help the many people already experiencing homelessness and provide assistance to people at risk of losing their housing.
The Budget also expanded pre-trial detention that will lead to more New Yorkers being held in crowded, dangerous conditions while COVID-19 outbreaks continue to escalate. Placing more people in jail during a pandemic is grossly irresponsible and will only cause lasting, irreparable harm. I have never felt more disappointed as a legislator.