The Green Party of NYS today offered a number of alternatives to resolve the state’s fiscal crisis, calling for a state budget that improves the future of all New Yorkers, rather than reacting out of fear of a budget shortfall.
The centerpiece of the Party’s proposal is a carbon tax, which is needed to both reduce greenhouse emissions contributing to climate change while raising funds to support the quick transition to a economy that will end reliance upon fossil fuels.
The Green Party also called for increasing taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers to reverse the regressive nature of NY’s tax system; re-instituting the stock transfer tax which would serve to minimize or contain Wall Street speculation; collecting hundreds of millions of dollars in unclaimed deposits from the bottle bill; reducing health care costs by eliminating the huge payments to for profit insurance companies (e.g., adopting a single payer universal health care system); and elimination of wasteful corporate welfare programs such as the Empire State Program. The Greens called for raising various fees of corporate polluters to pay for the entire cost of the state’s Superfund program to clean up abandoned toxic waste sites; right now taxpayers are required to foot 50% of the cleanup bill.
“We need to start implementing eco-taxes, so that polluters rather than taxpayers pick up the various costs associated with pollution. Pollution results in higher health costs to deal with health problems created (e.g., asthma from air pollution, cancer, etc.) while also forcing taxpayers to pay for costs to clean up toxic waste sites, contaminated water, landfills, etc. We need to stop wasting tax dollars subsidizing business practices that are harmful to the public health and the environment; which leave
clean businesses at an unfair disadvantage,” said state party co-chair Peter LaVenia.
The Greens said that a carbon tax would be far more effective in reducing carbon emissions than cap and trade programs, especially the limited Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative New York has joined. While the revenues from a carbon tax could be used short-term to deal with the state budget deficit, they should be devoted to long term support for investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and mass transit that would reduce the generation of carbon emissions. Measures should also be adopted to make the carbon tax progressive in nature (not an undue burden upon lower income people), by increasing funding for the Home Energy Assistance Program or even income tax rebates for low and moderate income families.
The Carbon Tax Center (www.carbontax.org) says that a “federal” carbon tax equivalent to 10 cents a gallon of gasoline – but applied to all fossil fuel burning – would bring in roughly $55 billion a year in revenue. A similar tax in New York would probably bring in about one-fifteenth to one-twentieth of such revenue. The Carbon Tax Center suggests raising the tax each year for ten years by an annual equivalence of 10 cents, raising an additional $50 billion per year nationally. The tax would be levied in the wholesale branch of the fuel supply chain, as far upstream as practicable. For example, electric generators will pay the mandated carbon tax to their coal, oil or natural gas suppliers, who will forward the payment to the government.
Regarding the stock transfer tax, the Green Party called upon statel awmakers to collect the $9 billion it could annually get from that tax on speculation. “Governor Paterson keeps on talking about the need to protect Wall Street. What we need to do is to protect average New Yorkers who are losing their homes, jobs and life savings from the robber barons on Wall Street. The stock transfer tax doesn’t have any impact on those who make long term investments. What it would do is serve as an anti-speculation tax, primarily impacting upon those who treat Wall Street as a casino, gambling all day long on one trade after another on which way the stock market is headed,.” said Gloria Mattera former Party Chairperson.
The Green Party said that enacting a single payer universal health care system could also save taxpayers tens of billions of dollars annually while making New York an economic magnet for businesses. Health care, under the current privatized system, is by far the biggest portion of the state budget, costing $50 billion annually with tens of billions of additional payments being made by consumers, local governments and employers. More than 16% of the American economy is now devoted to pay for health care, far more than other industrial countries even though the American health care system is consistently ranked among the worst of the industrial nations while leaving more than 2.5 million New Yorkers uninsured.
“It is economic suicide for America to keep on wasting as much as a third of our health care budget on a system of private for profit health insurance that provides nothing of value. If New York was the first state in America to have a rational single payer health care system that covered everyone while lowering costs, employers would flock here to lower their costs. The huge health care costs for the automobile insurance companies is one of the major reasons they are in such bad financial shape. Everyone who studies the health care system knows that a single payer Medicare for All type health care system makes the most sense in terms of quality, 100% coverage and lowering costs but politicians unfortunately are bought out by the campaign contributions by insurance and drug companies. Its time to just say no to for profit health insurance,” said Eric Jones, co-chair of the Green Party of NYS..
The Green Party noted that the poorest New Yorkers now pay twice the percentage of their income in state and local taxes as wealthy New Yorkers like Donald Trump do. The tax cuts given to the wealthy over the last two decades now costs the state more than $16 billion annually in lost revenues, more than the projected state budget deficit. If the state went back to the tax system it had thirty years ago, with tax brackets adjusted for inflation, 95% of New Yorkers would get a tax cut – while the state would generate more than $8 billion in additional revenues. The Greens said the state should also stop giving tax breaks to multistate companies that put local businesses at a competitive disadvantage.