Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is calling for tax hikes to help fund New York City’s cash strapped schools and child care programs.
“I’m calling on Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo to raise revenue to fund universal child-care programs, significantly increase staffing at schools, and fund the infrastructure improvements, including ventilation, that our school buildings need to be safe,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement Wednesday.
The Bronx Democrat said her tax hike call comes after hearing complaints from parents and teachers in her district that schools are not ready to reopen because of COVID-19 safety issues.
“It’s clear that there’s significant evidence to suggest that schools are not safe to re-open,” she said.
“Poorly ventilated and unsanitized classrooms, ambiguous or ineffective health screening, COVID testing and contact tracing protocols, and severe staffing shortages, on top of COVID cases in at least 55 schools, all indicate we are not ready to re-open.”
She also rapped de Blasio for pushing a city budget in June that slashed more than $700M from schools “but cut almost nothing meaningful from NYPD.”
AOC also claimed the state still owes the New York City public school system $3.9 billion in funding from prior years.
Ocasio-Cortez’s bid to raise taxes fund education and childcare comes as her Democratic Socialist allies plot to take over the City Council next year by backing a slate of candidates for 35 open seats.
Her tax hike campaign also comes as both the city and state grapple with multi-billion shortfalls caused by the severe pandemic-fueled recession, resulting in massive job losses and plummeting tax revenues.
Absent a federal bailout package, de Blasio has called on Albany to approve a $5 billion borrowing package for the city over two years to prevent a threatened 21,000 in layoffs of municipal workers and preserve basic services.
But Cuomo has resisted calls to hike taxes on wealthy, saying it would make New York uncompetitive with other states. The combined state-city 12.6 percent income tax rate on the wealthy in New York City is higher than the new income 12 percent tax rate imposed on the rich in New Jersey.
Most city tax rates, including on income and sales, must be cleared by the state Legislature and the governor. The mayor and council have authority to raise local property taxes.
AOC was undeterred.
“We are in this situation because we have balanced our budgets on the backs of students for decades,” the congresswoman, who represents parts of The Bronx and Queens, said.
She applauded city instructors for toiling to provide the best education possible “with very few resources.”
“They deserve all of our gratitude and appreciation, but they also deserve the resources they need to succeed. Our kids and communities deserve for us to get this right.”
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