Come out if you can to join us tomorrow (Weds. Nov. 10th) at 12:30 pm for our Rally to Stop the County Executive's proposed cuts to the Dutchess County Budget-- with Progressive Taxation(!)....in front of our County Office Building at 22 Market Street in Poughkeepsie-- pass it on!...
Can't make it?...check out my brand-new petition effort on this-- http://www.petitiononline.com/cobudget -- sign on and pass it along to all you know if you agree-- and send letters now to all 26 of us at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org!...
[...and don't forget to come out and speak up at the official county budget hearing Thurs. Dec. 2nd 7 pm at the Bardavon at 35 Market St. in Poughkeepsie!...]
Hopefully you agree that the Dutchess County Executive's draconian cuts proposed in his 2011 budget to these valuable organizations should be summarily rejected and every penny of funding restored-- the Dutchess County Human Rights Commission, Grace Smith House, Hudson River Housing, Family Services, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Dutchess County, Mediation Center of Dutchess County, Mental Health America of Dutchess County, Dutchess County Arts Council, Child Abuse Prevention, Early Intervention Services, our county's LOOP bus system, Astor Services, Mid-Hudson Library System, Hudson Valley Mental Health, Dutchess County Community Action Agency, BI Community Transitions Center, Lexington Center for Recovery, Rehab Programs Inc., DC ARC, Criminal Justice System, Mid-Hudson Children's Museum, Council on Addiction Prevention, Hands on the Hudson Valley, Project MORE, Literacy Connections, our county's Aging, Veterans, Youth Bureau, Health, Mental Hygiene, Sheriff, Board of Elections, and Natural Resources, Water and Wastewater Authority departments, our county's Workforce Investment Board, and Soil and Water Conservation District!...
As has been made eloquently clear by these nonprofits over the years, eliminating millions in funding for these pro-active and preventive services (such as youth activities, gang prevention, child abuse prevention, domestic violence legal services, domestic abuse response, early intervention, literacy, day care, foster care child advocacy, environmental education, 4-H, the arts, libraries, and re-entry services will end up costing Dutchess taxpayers far more down the road than if these valuable, problem-solving services were preserved (besides laying off hundreds more county residents as well)...
Note, too-- sign on to this petition if you also know (along with the vast majority of responsible economists) that the absolute worst thing to do in a recession is lay workers off, taking money out of working families' pockets that could turn around in the economy. The County Executive has, incredibly, actually proposed to layoff sixty-three current county employees-- while eliminating another thirty-eight vacant positions...
As the Poughkeepsie Journal reported Nov. 4th-- "Among the cuts would be 29 positions from the Department of Mental Hygiene, 16 positions from the county Department of Health [including two Home Health Aides] and 11 positions from the Department of Public Works [and three more Youth Workers to be laid off from our county's Youth Bureau, four to be laid off from our county's Board of Elections, two auditors to be laid off from our county Comptroller's office, four clerks to be laid off from our county's Department of Motor Vehicles, and many more]. In the Dutchess County Sheriff's Office, Steinhaus proposes eliminating six school resource officers and five correction officer positions"...
Recall-- just last year our County Executive bragged that his proposed budget for this year contained 53 fewer employees than in 1987 (despite the fact that there are 50,000 more Dutchess residents as population). This year again Steinhaus continues to make bold claims about how many county workers he has laid off; here's a direct quote from his Nov. 1st "budget message"-- "For 2011, this budget plan reduces the workforce by 101...my 2011 budget plan as proposed reduces the original 1992 total workforce number by 236 net positions, from 2074 positions down to 1838 positions...187 of the 236 have been eliminated in just the past three years alone...when I first became County Executive in 1992, county government had peaked with a workforce count of 2074 employees"...
Fact: People without jobs can't pay taxes and will cost county taxpayers money when they need services-- Dutchess County simply can't afford this type of a Grover Norquist sensibility ("I simply want to reduce government to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub"-- Norquist).
Don't forget these viable revenue alternatives to counterproductive budget cuts proposed above:
Municipal Electricity/Gas Alliance membership (as in 23 co.'s).........$300,000 in new revenue
Canadian Rx option for county employees/retirees (as in 5 co.'s)....$1 million in new revenue
[see http://www.MEGAEnergy.org ; http://www.PetitionOnline.com/SaveOnRx -- even GOP in other counties (like Rensselaer and Putnam) support these!]
Sign this petition, pass it on, email email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org-- and come out to speak up at the official hearing on the county budget-- Thursday Dec. 2nd at 7 pm at the Bardavon at 35 Market St. in Poughkeepsie (pass it on!).
p.s. Do you think it's right that we in the middle-class here in Dutchess now pay over 11% of our income in state and local taxes while millionaires pay only 8% of their income in state and local taxes? How many more years should this incredibly outrageous tax system be perpetuated?
Even GOP legislators like Molinaro and Miller have long proposed huge income tax hikes to cut property taxes-- without results in Albany to show for their ideas-- it's time the Dutchess County Legislature took the bull by the horns and made meaningful steps to make our tax system more progressive right here at home (with a tiny county-level income tax on the wealthy to slash property and sales taxes while fully funding nonprofits and county services-- especially because neither the state or federal governments are coming to our rescue!).
Both New York City and Yonkers have local income taxes-- that, if taken away, would drive their property taxes through the roof and kill their local economies-- it's time for progressive taxation here. [see: PetitionOnline.com/Fairness; www.petitiononline.com/fairtax]
Newsday, many Nassau County business leaders, the Chair of the Tompkins County Legislature, and many in Monroe County have endorsed similar local tax reforms; Rockland and Tompkins County Legislatures started study commissions to look at similar revenue alternatives to property tax hikes too.
Fact : 98% of small business owners make less than $250,000/year according to Wall Street Journal.
Fact: Millionaires used to pay 15 1/2% NY income tax rate in 70's under Rockefeller; now pay 8.97%. [see: http://www.fiscalpolicy.org/taxhistory2.htm]
Fact: By 4-to-1 ratio New Yorkers support tiny tax on millionaires. [Hart Research Associates 6/10]
Fact: Different recent Quinnipiac poll found overwhelming support even in GOP for millionaire tax.
[see: http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=940073&category=state ;
http://www.newyorker.com/talk/financial/2010/08/16/100816ta_talk_surowiecki -- 8/16/10 New Yorker]
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Thanx to these three folks for signin' on to http://www.petitiononline.com/cobudget already this morning (join us!):
Sheila Buff of Milan-- "Please restore the CCEDC funding."
Joshua Farrell of Fishkill-- "Budget cuts of this magnutude are unconscionable and unnecessary."
Fred Nagel of Rhinebeck-- "Cutting our way to an economic collapse. All to spare the rich from paying taxes."
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Let's restore as much as possible these draconian cuts that will send Dutchess back to the Dark Ages:
-- $110,000 cut to Grace Smith House since 2008 [recall Poughkeepsie Journal report on this Nov. 1st this year-- "A report by the Dutchess County Legislative Citizens' Advisory Committee on Domestic Violence shows the number of incidents in the county has grown each year since 2007. According to the report, $74,825 in funding was cut from the 2010 budget for battered-women services, producing staffing cuts that "has caused an enormous effect on the processing of cases." Funding for crime-victim assistance was also reduced by $73,245, according to the report, along with a total of $80,320 in county funding for the Grace Smith House."
-- $175,000 cut eliminating our county's Human Rights Commission
-- $93,000 cut to Mental Health America of Dutchess County
[completely eliminating the CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates) program that supervises 75 foster children annually; this program is strongly endorsed by both GOP and Dem Family Court judges; literally $276,000 of volunteer time is leveraged for only $26,000 investment in CASA; was $43K in '08]
-- $876,000 cut to our county's Departments of Aging, Veterans, and Youth
-- $76,000 cut to Mediation Center of Dutchess County
[for tremendously effective juvenile justice intervention programs to keep troubled youth at home, saving $240,000 a year to lock up youth
-- $774,000 cut (an 84% cut) to Cornell Cooperative Extension of Dutchess County
[thirty positions eliminated: 4-H programs, nutrition, financial management, Green Teen, Environmental Program, Master Gardener programs cut; e.g., for each $1 spent on nutrition services, $4.50 saved]
-- $80,000 cut to Hudson River Housing (making it impossible for HRH to keep homeless shelter going)
-- $81,000 cut to Family Services
[completely eliminating funding for crime victims; last year this program served 1200 victims and leverages $500,000 annually in state funding]
-- $146,000 cut (76% cut) to Dutchess County Arts Council
[meaning a 30% cut to the Arts in Education program (3500 kids served annually now); DCAC now triples county funding instantly for less than seventy cents per person each year in county; $3.52 returned per capita in state funding alone for every dollar invested; the arts in our county generate $40 million yearly in economic activity; there are 2000 people in arts jobs across our county]
-- $96,000 cut to Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce
[meaning laying off two tremendously successful mentors for troubled youth/GED program; job training]
-- $393,000 cut to our county's Emergency Response department-- decimating crucial training for fire inspectors across the county (I've already started to get calls from constituents in Rhinebeck and Clinton on this!)
-- $29,000 cut to Child Abuse Prevention
-- $187,000 cut to Early Intervention Services for children 0-3
-- $304,000 cut to our county's LOOP bus system
-- $2.9 million cut to our county's Health Department
-- $2.3 million cut to our county's Department of Mental Hygiene
-- $145,000 cut to Astor Home Services
-- $156,000 cut to Mid-Hudson Library System
-- $420,000 cut to our county's Board of Elections
-- $749,000 cut to Hudson Valley Mental Health
-- $484,000 cut to Dutchess County Community Action Agency
-- $190,000 cut to our county's Workforce Investment Board
-- $66,000 cut to BI Community Transitions Center
-- $63,000 cut to Lexington Center for Recovery
-- $40,000 cut to Rehab Programs Inc.
-- $72,000 cut to DC ARC
-- $42,000 cut to our county's Criminal Justice System
-- $6700 cut to Mid-Hudson Children's Museum
-- $15,000 cut to Council on Addiction Prevention
-- $10,000 cut to Hands on the Hudson Valley
-- $200,000 cut to Dutchess County Soil and Water Conservation District
-- $199,000 cut to our county's Natural Resources Department
-- $95,000 cut to our county's Department of Planning and Development
-- $162,000 cut to our county's Water and Wastewater Authority
-- $1,075,000 cut to our county Sheriff's Department
-- $10,000 cut to Project MORE
-- $3000 cut to Literacy Connections
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Speakers lament Steinhaus' proposed budget cuts
SHANTAL PARRIS RILEY • POUGHKEEPSIE JOURNAL • NOVEMBER 4, 2010
About 200 Dutchess County residents turned out Wednesday night at a hearing on the 2011 budget proposed by County Executive William Steinhaus.
The $399 million plan...would cut 101 jobs...among the comments were concerns about the effect the cuts will have on social service institutions and programs like the county Cornell Cooperative Extension and Mental Health America of Dutchess County.
Linda Keech, extension executive director, pleaded with legislators to restore funding to the agency, which she said was targeted for an 84 percent reduction in funding in the 2011 plan.
"If not, it will result in the elimination of all of our programs and services," she said.
Keech spoke of programs she said are important to the community, including the Family & Consumer Education, Agriculture and Horticulture and 4-H Youth Development programs.
"We've built such terrific programs," Keech said.
Jacki Brownstein, executive director of Mental Health America of Dutchess County, said the proposed cuts to the MHA budget would effectively mean the end of the CASA program.
The Court Appointed Special Advocates program provides oversight of children in the county foster-care system.
Though the reduction of a little more than $26,000 was small by comparison to other agency budget cuts, Brownstein said the reduction meant the elimination of training for the dozens of volunteer advocates who bridge the gap between foster-care families, foster children and critical service providers.
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Don't forget-- as it is now already all the following cuts went through in the 2010 County Budget(!):
[despite best efforts from yours truly on this; thanks to 120+ of you signed on over the past year to my http://www.PetitionOnline.com/SaveDuCo petition effort to find alternative cost-savers to cuts here]
-- $1,000,000-plus cut to our county’s Board of Elections (shortstaffing— tho huge elections this year)
-- $26,000 cut to the Dutchess County Office of Veterans Affairs (part-time employee laid off)
-- $233,000 cut to our county’s Office for the Aging (Senior Friendship Centers now on 4-day weeks instead of 5-day)
-- $209,839 cut to Dutchess County Community Action Agency (meaning less services, layoffs)
-- $200,000-plus cut to DCDOH— laying off 4 county employees, eliminating county’s senior home care program
-- $185,000 cut to Cornell Cooperative Extension (meaning less services, layoffs)
-- $165,960 cut to the Astor Home for Children (meaning less services, layoffs)
-- $114,000 cut to Family Services (meaning less services for the most vulnerable in our county)
-- $111,000 cut to Grace Smith House (meaning less services)
-- $106,987 cut to Hudson River Housing (in the midst of worst housing/foreclosure crisis in decades)
-- $56,553 cut to the Lexington Center for Recovery (shortfunding methadone clinic for heroin addicts)
-- $55,000 cut to Dutchess County Arts Council (meaning less services)
-- $41,000 cut to Mid-Hudson Library System (meaning less services)
-- $28,111 cut to the Mediation Center of Dutchess County (meaning less services)
-- $23,000 cut to Mental Health Association of Dutchess County (meaning less services)
-- $23,000 cut to BOCES (meaning less services in transition/re-entry program)
-- $11,000 cut to Lexington Center and $3000 cut to Literacy Connections (meaning less services)
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Recall, too-- it's also been proven repeatedly that a robust system of community-based senior home care saves tons of money for families-- and tons of tax dollars compared to nursing home placements for those same seniors. As Robert Gumson, Unit Manager for VESID Independent Living Services, told all of us assembled last year at the Taconic Resources for Independence's 19th Annual Celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act at the Wallace Center in Hyde Park, literally sixty to seventy percent of all senior citizens in nursing homes here in New York State don't need to be there-- and many tax dollars could be saved locally if Dutchess County followed the good examples of Warren and Washington counties and fully took advantage of a Pataki-era Medicaid waiver program to expand a true system of home care for seniors.
[see: http://www.ADAPT.org ; www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2009/07/19/finally_long_term_home_health_care/ ;
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Don't forget these crucial facts, folks (even more rationale for progressive tax change at county level!):
Go to these four links to see the numbers/possibilities Fiscal Policy Institute's Frank Mauro crunched:
http://www.fiscalpolicy.org/dutchessRPTlevies.htm ; http://www.fiscalpolicy.org/dutchess1999and2000.htm ;
http://www.fiscalpolicy.org/dutchess2001.htm ; http://www.fiscalpolicy.org/ImpactatDifferentIncomeLevels.htm .
[Mauro:"The calculations of the reduction in the county property tax levy that could be accomplished with a 10% surcharge on income tax (that's a surcharge on a taxpayer's state income tax bill, not a surcharge on taxpayer's income) assume cut in all property taxes (incl. business's property taxes)."]
Fact: All of the following members of the Better Choice Budget Coalition stand in strong support for a new tiny millionaires tax and at least partial re-implementation of a stock transfer tax on Wall Street-- NYS AFL-CIO, NYSUT, CSEA, PEF, AFSCME, NY Jobs with Justice, Dutchess Outreach, NYS Coalition Against Domestic Violence, NY Statewide Senior Action Council, NYS Alliance for Retired Americans, Interfaith Alliance of NYS, Interfaith Impact of NYS, Sierra Club, Environmental Advocates, Citizen Action, NYS Community Action Association, and many more-- see http://www.ABetterChoiceforNY.org .
Recall this paragraph from p. 41 of the Fiscal Policy Institute's Nov. 2006 "One New York" report-- from FiscalPolicy.org/OneNewYork.html-- "The state tax system is now so distorted that the governor and the legislature should undertake a comprehensive review. An essential part of what the governor and the legislature should do, however, is to help localities to reduce property taxes by restoring progressivity to state income taxes. In addition, the state government could give localities more flexibility in how they collect taxes, allowing them to move away from over-reliance on property and sales taxes and instead raising funds through a local version of an income tax. The governor and the legislature should consider giving county governments the authority to levy a 'piggyback' income tax for county government purposes. Such a tax could be structured like the income tax that the city of Yonkers is currently authorized to impose. The use of such an option would make a county's revenue system more progressive and place less of the burden on middle and lower income residents." [fact: property taxes would skyrocket in Yonkers/NYC without this!]
Fact: Even the Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 8th, 2007 that "The nation's top 1% of households own more than half the nation's stocks, according to the Federal Reserve. They also control more than $16 trillion in wealth-- more than the bottom 90%." (from Robert Frank's "Plutonomics")
[see: http://blogs.wsj.com/wealth/2007/01/08/plutonomics/ ]
Fact: "Citigroup's research department wrote three memos for investors concluding that wealth and power in the U.S. were increasingly concentrated in the hands of the top 1%, stating the top 1% of the population now have more financial wealth than the bottom 95% combined."
[see: http://www.michaelmoore.com/books-films/facts/capitalism-love-story (Michael Moore's last film)]
Fact Millionaires used to pay a 91% federal income tax rate in '50's under Ike; they now pay 35%.
[sign: http://www.PetitionOnline.com/ILikeIke ; http://www.taxfoundation.org/publications/show/151.html ; also see Chuck Collins' recent piece-- "The Small Business Case for Ending Tax Cuts for the Wealthy"-- http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/10/15-1]
Fact: 70% of the U.S. economy is driven by consumer demand (the middle class needs help!).
These three paragraphs are from the Tompkins County Legislature's local income tax study group final July 12th 2005 report (see http://www.tompkins-co.org/pubinfo/incometax7-12-05.pdf ):
"The group agreed in general that income tax is appealing for its potential to create more fairness, to relieve a portion of the property tax burden, and to link taxation more closely with ability to pay. A local income tax has the potential to broaden the tax base, provide relief to lower-income property owners, and offset the negative effect of increasing assessments. It is potentially attractive to businesses, would be relatively easy to administer, and could mitigate the loss of revenue due to real property tax exemptions.
"A group of local residents each of whom possesses valuable professional expertise in areas such as tax law, accounting, banking, entrepreneurship, economic development, data analysis, community service, and politics held a series of discussions and requested information to help them determine the usefulness and viability of a local income tax surcharge as a means of reducing the real property tax burden in Tompkins County.
For example, a 10 percent surcharge on the state income tax would raise about $7 million from Tompkins County residents, for a reduction of property tax of about 21 percent... Because the state income tax is graduated, a local surcharge would also be tiered according to income. State enabling legislation and a local referendum would be required...A few states, including Maryland and Indiana, allow local income taxes. Pennsylvania has had local income taxes since 1965."
Here are ten more reasons for our county to have a local income tax to slash county property taxes and make sure crucial county services are funded adequately-- directly from the Tompkins County Legislature's local income tax study group final July 12th 2005 report (see http://www.tompkins-co.org/pubinfo/incometax7-12-05.pdf ):
1. Low-Income Relief
-- Would reduce real estate taxes for lower-income homeowners
-- Easy to create exemptions e.g. No tax below a certain income level
-- Generous rental credits/rebates could benefit low-income renters
-- Less burdensome on low-income people
-- Less burdensome on fixed-income people
-- Income tax is more progressive. Those who have more pay more
-- Should result in a more progressive taxing system that could produce
greater revenues based on growth in wealth
-- Progressive (more fairness)
-- Spreads the tax burden across a greater number of people so hopefully it is smaller per person
-- Can have a progressive structure
-- Distributes tax burden to those who can afford to pay
-- Allows for exemptions and income thresholds to effect greater degree of fairness
-- Takes into account the income tax cuts adopted by the state in a
3. Easy to Administer
-- Based on prior NY State experience would administratively be
efficient since collected by state, uses state tax filings for calculation
-- Easy to administer (through payroll systems)
-- Tax is inexpensive to administer as it is based on NYS tax collection system
4. Broaden Base
-- Would expand the base if payroll is included
-- Would establish higher base and therefore greater revenue source to County while
hopefully lowering overall tax burden
-- Base expanded.
-- With commuter component would broaden base to include people who currently use
some services but don't contribute.
5. Ability to Pay
-- Provides relief for unfortunate circumstances
-- Basis is current ability to pay
-- Income tax is related to ability to pay. Your tax doesn't rise while your resources stay flat or decline
-- Every year is based on current ability to pay
-- Every year is not based on a previous year's investment decision
-- Addresses the fact that home values correlate very poorly with income
6. Ownership Incentives
-- Reduces disincentive for home ownership
-- Reduces disincentive for property maintenance
-- Reduces tax penalty for saving (investing in a home)
-- Income tax may be more appropriate for owners of large vacant parcels who wish to keep them vacant. (Encourages investment in open land)
7. Property Tax Cut
-- Provides County with additional source of revenue
-- Property tax cut
-- Possibility of property tax freeze or cap
-- Total revenue from income tax is large enough to displace other taxes
-- It's a structural change-- no more scrambling for small revenue sources
8. Rational Basis
-- Basis is rational/logical, rather than anecdotal
-- Basis is ideological rather than based on tradition
-- Is not based on simplistic/archaic ideas of wealth
-- Mitigates Tax Exemptions
-- May provide a more balanced revenue source by recognizing the high level of tax-exempt property in Tompkins County
-- Solves the unfairness of tax-exempt property
-- With commuter tax, solves several chronic Tompkins County problems-- untaxed in-commuting workers and lots of tax-exempt property
9. Adjusts with Income
-- Adjusts automatically to changing conditions
-- Automatic inflation adjustment
-- Would annually adjust so that drop in income would lower tax paid
-- Tax base would expand as income grows; no need for re-assessment as in property tax
-- Tax revenue rises (or falls) with general prosperity
10. Easy to Understand
-- Can be easy for everyone to understand and calculate depending on how it is structured
-- Easy to explain and understand
-- Income is more accurately determined than property value