A New Equation

by Dave Duncan

At every level of government an attack is being made on the standard of living of middle and low income Americans. Entitlement programs are being trimmed back, our school budgets have been cut, necessary services are being eliminated, public service workers are being fired and the infrastructure which includes our sewer and water plants is crumbling.

Great numbers of people are having trouble paying for basic necessities of life. This is not just a problem in some other states, it is a problem right here. New York State has the greatest disparity of income of any state in the country and Broome County is no Garden of Eden either.  Broome County has a population of 200,600 with 33,580 people living in poverty. With a population of 47,380 Binghamton has 11,229 people living in poverty, or almost one in four. Our local poverty level on the county and city level is higher than the poverty level of NYS. ((The poverty level for a family of two is $14,710 and $22,350 for a family of four.  No family can live on that income.)

What Is Being Done About This Calamity?

Nothing is being done. Our political leaders, both Democrats and Republicans, have shifted the blame for our economic woes to the people, while ignoring those whose greed has caused the economic crisis. On the Federal level Bush, and now Obama and the Congress did not blink once when they were called upon to bail out Wall Street, the banks and big corporations, but they have turned a blind eye to the basic needs of average people, and  continue to make the rich even richer. The “servants of the people” are cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public housing, unemployment and many other basic programs.

In NYS, Governor Cuomo plans to cut public service worker benefits and jobs, park services, and education while doing nothing to raise the taxes of the rich, in order to have them pay their fair share. The disparity of income between average people and the rich is greater in NYS than anywhere else in the country.

Right Here in Broome County

It is not just Exxon Corp that makes billions while not paying any Federal taxes. At the local level, Mayor Ryan of Binghamton, County Executive Brennan, and the Mayor of Johnson City all prefer to cut jobs and/or the benefits of public service employees before they ask local, exceedingly wealthy corporations to pay their fair share.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • · Why have Binghamton politicians sponsored tax breaks so the Newman Corporation and other developers can provide up-scale student housing that most Binghamton residents could not afford to live in?
  • · When will the present or future Binghamton Mayor ask Al Boscov to pay his fair share of the City expenses?
  • · Why did Johnson City give the Press & Sun-Bulletin a 15 year, 50% tax break?
  • · Why does the Metro Center Mall only pay 1/8 of its taxes under a 99 year deal?
  • · Who in the County or Village of Johnson City will ask the BAE plant owners in Johnson City to pay their fair share of school and Village costs?
    • · Why, in April 2009, did the Vestal Town Board pass a resolution extending the tax deal for Nationwide Credit Inc. and AIG Corp. located at University Plaza? (Remember when U.S. taxpayers bailed out AIG at the Federal level? Why did we have to bail AIG out at the local level too?
    • · What has the EIT tax break cost the Village of Endicott and the U.E. School District?

There are many more “no or low pay” corporations in Broome County and the Broome County Industrial Development Agency has had a hand in most of these tax deals.

Residents and Public Service Workers Must Demand a Change in the Equation

Our politicians, supported by both political parties and big corporations, have us believing that our financial problems stem from the fact that government programs cost too much and are no longer affordable. Why do they never blame the

shortfall on the rich and powerful corporations that the politicians have cozied up to with huge tax breaks?   The County, City of Binghamton, the area villages and all of the school districts have a stake in these giveaways. Yet the giveaways (some of which are listed above) are never mentioned. A different economic equation and solution to our problems will most likely never appear in the pages of The Press & Sun-Bulletin. Why, because they got their tax deal!

Did you know that the school board of your school district also approves tax breaks for the Industrial Development Agency. School board members fly below the radar, but they approve the tax breaks while lamenting the need to cut school programs.

What would happen if local corporations paid their fair of taxes?  In schools, class sizes would be smaller because teachers wouldn’t be laid off. School music, art and athletic programs would be reinstituted. Our infrastructure could be updated. Health clinics could be opened. Area parks could be properly maintained. Best of all, residential property taxes could be lowered. Can you think of any other benefits our community would receive if corporations and businesses paid their fair share?

 

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