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.”
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.
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.