CITY AND STATE CULTURE BUDGET UPDATE
The mayor released his preliminary plans for the city budget. The decrease in the expense budget for the Department of Cultural Affairs – the department that affects arts funding – is $19.6 million, leaving a baseline of $102.7 million for the agency. According to the administration’s documents, this is a 6.2 percent cut to the agency and when combined with earlier reductions, results in a total reduction of 15.6 percent.
Governor Pataki has also released his proposed budget for State Council on the Arts. The cut to program dollars is roughly 15 percent.
SPEAKER PROPOSES REVENUE SHARING TAX PLAN
Council Speaker Gifford Miller proposed to the Central Labor Council that the federal government create an $80 billion revenue sharing program to help the nation’s cash-strapped counties and local governments reduce escalating property taxes. Under the provisions of this plan, funds would be distributed to counties across the nation on the basis of population. To receive this aid, counties would be required to present a plan to share funds with all local governments within their boundaries on an equitable basis. They would also be required to use at least half of these funds for property tax relief.
New York City would receive a total of $2.2 billion in aid, with $1.1 billion available for budget relief and $1.1 billion for a property tax rebate. The typical New York City home owner would see their property tax reduced by $207 and a typical co-op owner would benefit from a $310 property tax reduction.
ARTS AND CULTURE IN LOWER MANHATTAN
Rebuild Downtown Our Town, a coalition comprised of Lower Manhattan residents, businesses, colleges, artists, community associations, professionals and designers, released a report on Jan. 23, entitled “Revitalizing Lower Manhattan Through Arts and Culture.”
For a copy of the full report visit www.rebuilddowntownourtown.org.
RIGHT TO ORGANIZE CHALLENGED
Business groups are urging the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to invalidate the state’s misuse of public funds law which prohibits companies and institutions from using state money to discourage union organizing. The measure was signed into law on Sept. 30. Opposition to the law argues that it oversteps the state’s authority to regulate labor relations and infringes on the free speech of employers. The Business Council of New York State and a coalition of health care groups asked the NLRB to strike down the law.
LAYOFF INFO NEEDS TO BE DISCLOSED
The board of the Economic Policy Institute is petitioning U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao to reverse a Labor Department decision to stop the crucial reporting of plant closings and mass layoffs. The data – offered to the media, officials and general public – was used for directing services, training and other aid to displaced workers and their families. A press release that incorporates the letter can be downloaded at www.epinet.org/newsroom/releases/03/01/030124-chao-ltr.pdf.
DROP THE ROCK
Local 802 has signed on to support the campaign to abolish the Rockefeller Drug laws and restore sentencing discretion to trial judges in all drug cases. The Rockefeller Drug Laws were enacted in 1973 under then Governor Nelson Rockefeller. They require long prison terms, up to 15 years to life, for the possession or sale of small amounts of drugs. The penalties apply without regard to the circumstances of the offense or the individual’s character or background.
New York State Assemblymember Aubry has introduced a repeal bill (A-852) that if passed would restore sentencing discretion, make sentencing reform retroactive, expand funding available for alternatives to incarceration and significantly reduce sentence lengths for drug offenses.
For more information call (212) 254-5700 or visit www.droptherock.org.