Group in Crosshairs of Cuomo Budget Cuts Take to the Airwaves

Friday, February 18, 2011

There are just six weeks until the New York State budget is due, and groups affected by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed $10 billion in cuts have begun stepping up their efforts to win public support for alternatives — like extending a tax on the rich.

Cuomo has proposed $1.5 billion in school aid cuts in his budget plan. But, after a month of behind-the-scenes lobbying and a mini-protest at hearings, the state’s teachers union is hitting the airwaves in an attempt to convince lawmakers to get funding by extending an income tax surcharge on New Yorkers making more than $250,000 a year. The temporary tax is scheduled to end December 31.

New York State United Teachers President Richard Iannuzzi said the ads will soon air in major television markets around the state.

“We will be doing a significant media buy on the issue of who should be sacrificing, whether it’s the wealthy or school children,” Ianuzzi said.

The ads mark the beginning of Albany’s traditional budget ad wars, where groups potentially affected by spending cuts take to the TV airwaves to make their case to the legislature, and in some instances, to attack the governor.

Cuomo has his own weapon, the Committee to Save New York, a group of business leaders and real estate developers, who have in the past promised to air their own counter attack ads. The governor also held a $15,000-a-head fundraiser at Rockefeller Center Thursday evening for his election campaign. He is not schedule to run for another 3-1/2 years and invitations to the event said that Cuomo needs help in order to "enact change."

Cuomo has said repeatedly he is against extending the so-called millionaire’s tax. At that same budget hearing, disrupted by protesters, Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy told lawmakers that he believed schools could absorb the cuts without harming children or, in some cases, laying off teachers. Duffy said schools can simply use reserve funds or left over federal stimulus monies, freeze teacher wages and cut administrative salaries.

“When you have salaries of $300,000 plus, I think there a number of economies that can be made,” said Duffy.

Cuomo is also proposing nearly $3 billion dollars in Medicaid cuts. One element that’s been absent so far from the traditional budget battle is negative television ads from the hospital and health care workers union lobbies. In the past, those ads have caused former governors to back down from health care cuts.

Hospitals and other health groups can’t run TV spots right now because they don’t know exactly what the cuts will be. Most of the stakeholders agreed to serve on a Medicaid Redesign panel run by the Cuomo Administration. That panel has to agree on the cuts by March 1.

Dan Sisto, President of the Health Care Association, the state’s largest hospital lobby group, who is on the panel, said if the group fails to meet its deadline and Cuomo imposes his own cuts, there will be less than a month left to build support for restorations.

“If we don’t come up with the ideas, then we have a very limited time frame to lobby the legislature to avoid the cuts,” said Sisto.

The Medicaid panel has listed many of the group’s proposed cuts on it’s website, but no one knows for sure which reductions, if any, the panel will finally agree on.  

Public worker unions are also holding their fire for now, saying they will wait to see how contract negotiations go first. Cuomo has threatened up to 10,000 lay offs if he does not win union concessions.

Perhaps because of the lack of a well funded television opposition campaign so far, Cuomo is enjoying all time high popularity in the polls. A recent Siena College survey put the governor at a 72 percent approval rating, with nearly the same amount — three quarters of New Yorkers — backing the governor’s budget plan.


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Comments [8]

Jim from Saratoga Springs

I find it amusing that I am seeing commercials on tv that speak of the budgeting as affecting the "Children's Education". Why no call it Affecting the "Teachers Benefit's". The unions don't want to share the pain that the rest of us Non-Union Workers go thru. We pay for our heath care why can't they.

Feb. 23 2011 06:34 PM

I hope Mr Bean from NYC isn't a typical teacher, or a teacher at all. It is scary that someone so illiterate might be a teacher, and worse still that he ignores the salary he's been paid for the 14 years he's worked and deserves more tribute.

Feb. 21 2011 02:32 PM

Unfortunately too many folks, choosing to be selectively ignorant, spout nonsense like "Fran" and "vmgillen". Opinions are fine, and everyone is entitled to their own, however, facts are not up for dispute; they are immutable. And Gov. Cuomo is spot on. The facts are that New York teachers are overpaid relative to their colleagues in the rest of the country, far and beyond the "cost of living is higher" in this state. Fact: the average cost of educating students nationwide is $14,000; in this state it is over $19,500! Come on. We union workers in the private sector contribute 40% more (on average) than teachers to our pensions and healthcare. And guess what, we can be fired unlike public school teachers. Enough is enough.

As far as the so-called rich, those who generally provide the private sector jobs in this country, the top 2% of the wealthiest contribute over 60% of all of the taxes paid - federal, social security, state and local. So the next time you meet a millionaire thank her for providing you with the great flow of largess that flows from government coffers!

Feb. 19 2011 04:57 PM
Ricardo in the South Bronx from South Bronx

I hope Cuomo is able to enact change as soon as possible. I invite those of you opposed to budget cuts to come to the South Bronx and see how taxpayers' money is wasted in the name of "basic, life-sustaining services for our most vulnerable". I've been trying to hire local workers at $14/hour for 8 months for an entry-level position and nobody wants to take it because "welfare pays more".

Feb. 19 2011 12:55 PM
mr bean from ny

please mr cuomo help us teachers survive, how can this man say that after working 14 years i dont get some type of tribute, please destroy the minds and accountability of these devils and do was fair and right! help us

christine queen?, did you strike a deal so you can get married to your gf?..ll..i guess love triumphs over all?

Feb. 19 2011 10:56 AM

The title of this story reads "Group in Crosshairs...". Is NPR suggesting we act out in violence against the members of this group? I know the whole Gabby Giffords thing has died down a bit but still would be nice to see some of the phony outrage the left inundated us with last month. I won't hold by breath though.

Feb. 19 2011 10:03 AM

As usual the rich protect their own. Not renewing the surtax on those earning over $250,000 is reprehensible as is balancing the budget on the backs of our youth, infrimed and elderly.

Shame on you Cuomo!

Feb. 19 2011 08:42 AM
vmgillen from Staten Island

To value tax cuts for people who don't have to worry at all about keeping body and soul together, over providing for basic, life-sustaining services for our most vulnerable, is morally reprehensible. Period.

Feb. 19 2011 08:17 AM

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