100 Faith Leaders Urge State Leaders to Explore Revenue Options

An Open Letter from New York's Religious Leaders to Governor David Paterson the Leaders of the New York State Legislature

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ALBANY, NY (06/17/2010)(readMedia)-- Over 100 New York faith leaders signed on to an open letter to the legislature urging them to support a budget that protects families and public services in NYS. The faith leaders are concerned that our leaders are making cuts to vital public services that will drive families deeper into poverty, diminish their chances for a quality education and affect their ability to access affordable healthcare.

"Governmental budgets are fundamentally moral documents. They express the collective values of the community," said the Rev. Dr. Richard S. Gilbert, President of Interfaith Impact of NYS. "I urge passage of a budget that fairly funds health, welfare and education especially, even if it means an increase in state revenues. Certainly this wealthy state can afford to fund services for the poor, our children and those who need health care."

In an already struggling economy, cuts will continue to weaken the state and have devastating effects on working class families. The proposed cuts would further endanger community healthcare institutions, put our children at risk by underfunding our schools, and put families at risk by increasing layoffs and diminishing access to the social services that provide a critical safety net for New Yorkers struggling to survive through these hard times.

"Scriptures from all faiths are united in one over-arching principle: compassion for the oppressed," stated Rev. Caspar Green of First Baptist Church in Glens Falls. "People of faith must take action to see that universal values of human dignity and worth are not an afterthought in the final budget discussions."

"At a time of recession and hardship, we need to see our state's leaders working diligently with a vision for unity and the common good," said Rev. Dr. Victor Collier of Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Albany, "Sadly, we have seen no sign of that sort of statesmanship so far. As someone who honors the call of God for compassion and justice, I urge state lawmakers to renew their efforts to find common ground and bring swift and needed relief to the poor through the state budget."

New York can implement a just and sensible policy package that will help set working families and New York State back on track. Reasonable measures should include asking those with the most means in our state to help those with the least. Equitable options should include asking the financial sector to help as they have just benefited and recovered from our bail out assistance, instituting new income tax brackets for millionaires; and closing tax loopholes that allow large, highly profitable corporations to avoid taxation. These sensible measures should significantly reduce the need for more public service cuts and even more job losses.

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