HomeBernie Sanders4/10-11 Weekend News Roundup & OT

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We might trace the origin of this decline specifically to the spring of 2011, during Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s first year in office, when he persuaded the State Legislature to cut year-to-year expenditure on education and health care by more than $2 billion, refusing to consider a millionaire’s tax to offset the reductions. This was the first time in more than 10 years that the state had cut overall annual spending.

Among the many other consequences was that housing stability now also seemed less and less assured. The cuts pushed New York City to eliminate an important rental assistance program, sending record numbers of people into homelessness. By the summer of 2012, nearly 300 families a month were seeking shelter after their subsidies had run out. When he announced that budget, the governor declared “a new day in New York.” It was a new day of a kind — the morning of a long, aggressive period of austerity.

That era effectively came to a close this week with a deal between Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers that at long last did not genuflect to the blanket interests of the very wealthy. The $212 billion dollar budget for the coming fiscal year — $79 billion larger than the governor’s first budget — relies on federal stimulus money but also on tax increases levied on those who have done exceedingly well.

Even if it has come at personal advantage to the governor, redirecting attention away from his multiplying scandals, it signifies a major step toward equity in a place long distinguished by economic divisions made all the more awful by Covid. It is important to recognize, though, that we did not get here by default — not solely by way of Mr. Cuomo’s diminished authority or his loosened grip on things.

That narrative misses the impact of years of activism on the part of political progressives, labor unions, immigrant organizations and so many others. Groups like the Working Families Party successfully campaigned for a more left-leaning State Legislature and in recent months made a relentless effort to deliver the message that the state needed to spend more on improving the lives of average people and less on kowtowing to a population whose greatest pandemic agony was the inability to find an available contractor when it seemed like the pool house needed some shaking up.