New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered a combined State of the State address and 2015-2016 budget proposal yesterday. The presentation addressed a myriad of issues, many of which are of significance to RJV and our work to promote social justice in New York. These topline proposals align with our work, and as we get more in-depth in the budget process, we will provide more insight and advocacy opportunities:



Economic Justice: The Governor announced measures to increase funding for emergency food programs, affordable housing and raising the minimum wage to $10.50/hour across the state and $11.50/hour in New York City. The Torah emphasizes the importance of a worker’s wages (Deuteronomy 24:14-15) but also commands us to advocate behalf of the vulnerable: we are told in Proverbs 31:9 to “speak up, judge righteously, and champion the poor and the needy.”

Read more about economic justice

Women’s Equality Agenda: RJV has long advocated for a 10-Point Women’s Equality Agenda, which includes the provisions ensuring reproductive rights. RJV and the Reform Movement has a long history advocating for women’s rights and equality, and reproductive rights is a key part of that.
Read more about the Women's Equality Agenda

Criminal Justice Reform: In light of recent events in Ferguson and Staten Island, Governor Cuomo announced measures to reform the criminal justice system and improve police-community relations. The Governor also proposed changing how the juvenile justice system treats youth offenders.

Read more about criminal justice reform

Campaign Finance Reform: With the five-year anniversary of the Citizens Uniteddecision this week, it is important to continue the push for campaign finance reform, as mentioned in the State of the State. The Governor proposed a number of reformsincluding public financing, reducing contribution limits and restricting personal use of campaign contributions.

Read more about campaign finance reform

LGBT Equality: The Governor called for passage of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), a bill that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity in employment, public accommodations and other areas. As ReformJews, we are also guided by the basic belief that all human beings are createdb’tzelem Elohim (in the Divine image) and ought to be treated with dignity and respect.
Read more about LGBT equality

Education: The NY DREAM Act is an important measure that would promote opportunities for higher education for undocumented students, and RJV has advocated for its passage.

Read more about the Dream Act

However, in the budget, Governor Cuomo tied the NY Dream Act to an education tax credit that would benefit public, private and parochial schools. At Advocacy Day last year, RJV opposed this tax credit because of our support for public education system and our concerns regarding the separation of church and state.

Read more about the education tax credit