The first three months of the ligislative session are over, the legislators are on vacation, and once agin, we have an on-time budget. The numbers got crunched, and all the big programs--education, health, economic development, environment, public assistance, and much more got funded.
As usual, and despite lots of verbal back and forth, the programs left out are moral benchmarks issues. These include early voting, elimination of cash bail, the HALT Solitary Act, the Dream Act, GENDA, campaign finance refom, comprehensive sexuality education, and much more. These programs seldom involve large sums of money. They get rolled into the budget, but in the end, the budget is about numbers, and these bills are about our moral issuess. We have the next three months to focus on these bills.
On Monday, May 7th, IINYS will have an annual advocacy day. We will pick three of these items and advocate with the Senate and Assembly leadership. Our voice does matter to these legislators, and the more people we have in the Capitol and Legislative Office Building, the more effective we are. Registration is free thanks to the Gilbert Spirit Fund of the First Unitarian Church of Rochester. Go to http://www.interfaithimpactnys.org/AdvocacyDay.html to learn more and register. You can also emial email@example.com with questions, comments, and suggestions.
We will post a longer analysis of the budget later this month.
Yours in Community,
Robb Smith, Executive Director
Interfaith Impact of NYS
For several years now, much of the progressive legislation we support has been rolled up into the budget. This year, we'll probably see it again. The budget is the most important moral document to come out of the Legislature each year. The budget for 2018-2019 gets put together from now through November, as the Governor, Senate and Assembly create their budget documents. Here are some especially important bills to look at during this runup to the next session of the legislature:
- The Climate and Community Protection Act. This would move up the timetable for all renewable energy in New York State.
- The Humane Alternatives to Long Term Solitary Confinement Act (HALT), which would put the brakes on the excessive use of isolation torture in New York prisons.
- The Dream Act, which would help the children of undocumented immigrants get through college.
There may be more. We'll let you know.
Yours in Community,
Robb Smith, Executive Director, IINYS
Family Planning Advocates (FPA) Day of Action
Report by Kathy Tew Rickey to the GUSTO Clergy Group (reprinted with her permission)
Monday, January 26, 2015
Hello all – as I said it was a great day despite the weather threats. The events started out being well organized with a rally in The Well of the Legislative Office Building. There were hot pink pashmina scarves and hot pink neck ties given out at registration. Placards were also distributed with FPA messages for rallying. The speakers included several senators, assemblypersons, and the leaders of the Bi-Partisan Pro-Choice Legislative Caucus (90 members). We are not alone in family planning support!Read more
IINYS Executive Director Robb Smith testified about the minimum wage gap for tipped workers in New York State. Right now, the difference between the minimum wage for other workers and that for your waiter or waitress is $3 per hour, going up to $3.75 per hour on Dec. 31st. Called a "tip credit," it is in fact a kickback to employers that is paid directly out of the earnings of our lowest paid, most vulnerable workers. It also unfairly distorts the notion religious tenet of charity that is implicity in the practice of tipping. IINY recommended eliminating the wage gap.Read more
I just sent the following letter to the editor of the Albany Times Union
Welcome to the new Interfaith Impact of NYS blog. We hope you will follow us here as we post items from around the state, look at who’s doing what in the areas ranging from health and human rights to prison reform and economic justice, talk about actions and reactions, and discuss what we can do to make a difference.Read more