The Rally for New York on March 5, 2009 brought thousands of New Yorkers out to City Hall Park in an effort aimed at forcing Albany and City Hall to produce a fair budget for schools and other public services. It is estimated that more than 40,000 concerned citizens, union workers and parents came out to protest what is perceived as an unfair budget that will ultimately punish the most vulnerable in our city—children, the elderly and the infirm.
But as large as the demonstration was some say that this is only the tip of the iceberg as dissatisfaction about the proposed budget cuts is causing a rumble of outrage in all sectors of our society. Albany is accused of unfairly distributing stimulus funds and shorting various localities like the city. While lawmakers haggle over the amount of the cuts, funding for schools, hospitals and other services will be held hostage as the state tries to resolve its economic crisis by cuts to education, childcare and healthcare.
Noting that the proposed budget plan places a greater burden on the working class, support for a fair-share tax reform movement is also growing as it is estimated that a modest rise in the income taxes of those who earn more than $250,000—the top 5 percent—could produce revenues of as much as $6 billion per year.
The rush-hour demonstration packed lower Manhattan from the tip of City Hall Park along Broadway up past Worth Street as New Yorkers came out to make sure that the federal stimulus funds are spent in a way that protects communities, schools and the other vital social services that keep the city running.
While most city workers were represented at the rally, members of the UFT from all five boroughs showed up in force to voice their concern for children and schools. They held placards calling for fair budgets with slogans like "Don't be fools, support our schools," and reminders that "Our children deserve better." Some of the demonstrators are pictured here and while others will be showcased in the following edition of the New York Teacher.
Send your state legislators this letter before April 1, urging them to pass a fair budget.