Presser with group of Socialists in Office

What We’re Fighting for this Year

We are in the third year of a global pandemic. New Yorkers continue to suffer from the impacts of COVID-19 – on top of years of austerity budgets written by and catering to the capitalist class in our state.

We need to extend crucial temporary policies won last year and establish permanent programs to serve working class and low income New Yorkers – programs that create public resources, build collective power, and redress the harms of capitalism. The following are our top priorities for this legislative Session.

About The NYS Socialists in Office

Climate

Marcela with group locked in arms in middle of street. Big banner in back says Build or Burn

Credit: Thirdblade Photography

A sustainable future is a human right. As capitalism and corporate control plunge us deeper into the climate crisis, we are fighting to ensure this future through policies that move us off the fossil fuel economy now and hand ownership of our energy system to the public. The legislature has not passed any significant climate legislation since the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act in 2019. We must change this.

Build Public Renewables Act (S6453/A1466A)

Our energy system is owned by for-profit, corporate monopolies like ConEd and National Grid, whose only goal is to squeeze as much money from New Yorkers as they can—charging the second-highest rates in the country while poisoning Black and brown neighborhoods with dirty emissions, and cutting power to the most vulnerable. The Build Public Renewables Act would direct the New York Power Authority (NYPA), already the largest public utility in the nation, to build out renewable energy at a breakneck pace, faster and cheaper than the private sector. This bill would bring as many as 51,000 jobs and between $48.6–$93.5 billion of economic activity to New York—and lay the groundwork for our vision of Public Power: a 100% renewable, democratically controlled, publicly owned energy system that serves people, not profit.

Phara at a rally outside of a billionares house

Credit: Gabriele Holtermann

Teachers Fossil Fuel Divestment Act (S4783A/A6331A)

Every year, finance capital—with the strong backing of state pension funds—allocates billions of dollars to the fossil fuel industry. This is a bizarre symptom of our capitalist economy, where workers create value through their labor, only to see this labor converted into billions of dollars of finance capital used for destructive purposes, often in ways that directly contradict the interests of those who have created this wealth. The New York State Teachers’ Retirement System (NYSTRS), a pension fund with more than $140 billion in net assets, invests approximately 6.71% of its holdings in the fossil fuel industry. Rather than allowing finance capital to direct workers’ pension funds toward destructive uses, this legislation would require NYSTRS to divest from fossil fuels and protect teachers’ pensions from investment in fossil fuels that threaten the future they work to build.

Emiliy witn megaphone protesting outside NRG plant with group

Credit: Gabriele Holtermann

All-Electric Building Act (A8431)

Decades of inaction by the political establishment means we have no time left to spare to reduce carbon emissions. The building sector is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in New York. The All-Electric Building Act would require that local governments cease providing permits for the construction of any new gas hookups beginning in 2024 for residential or commercial buildings. The bill creates a waiver process in the event that all-electric appliances are infeasible for certain projects and also requires that relevant state agencies study the feasibility and availability of electric replacements of gas technologies.

Clean Futures Act (S5939A/A6761A)

We know we are already amidst climate catastrophe and that we need to move off our extractive fossil fuel economy now. The Clean Futures Act would disallow the state from approving any new fossil fuel power plants. It will ensure that we are on track to meeting the historic goals of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act: with only 19 years to transition off fossil fuels, New York must stop permitting fracked gas power plants and commit to building zero-emission climate solutions like renewable energy, battery storage, and more.

Zohran at a street protest. Large green painted signs behind him.

Credit: Dean Moses

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Democracy

Jabari and Marcela at a meeting

A society that trammels workers and their right to the fruits of their labor depends on excluding the working class as much as possible from democratic participation and access to power. Corruption of the political process by the wealthy also depends on a scarcity of transparent and accurate information about government and the economy. We support legislation that will deepen democracy and transparency in New York in order to ensure that the political demands of the working class are always represented and New York’s government is free from corrupting influences.

New York Voting Rights Act (NYVRA) (S1046A/A6678A)

The New York Voting Rights Act is a law drafted by civil rights advocates in recognition of New York State’s long history of voter suppression and abysmal rates of democratic participation. In order for democratic socialism to flourish, the working class must participate in the elective franchise to the maximum extent possible, in addition to seeking justice and power by any other means necessary. The NYVRA would add robust protections for voting rights in New York and guarantee that no matter what happens to voting rights at the federal level, New York’s will remain extremely strong.

Voting Rights for Incarcerated People (S3073/A6646)

Disenfranchisement of people because they have felony convictions or are incarcerated is an ugly and stark vestige of chattel slavery and Jim Crow in this country. In New York, one obstacle to eliminating this racist denial of full human rights is enshrined in the New York Constitution. Enactment of this bill would lead to a state-wide referendum to amend the New York Constitution to eliminate these provisions which would pave the way to full enfranchisement.

Economic Justice

Electeds marching down street with banner calling for tax the rich

We cannot fund all the comprehensive social programs needed in a compassionate state without increasing the size of the state budget. We must increase taxes on the wealthy and promote the equal distribution of wealth, ownership, and control in order to bring about true democracy: economic democracy.

Public Banking (S17262A/A5782)

In contrast with much of the world (and North Dakota), our banking system in New York is entirely privatized. That means that New Yorkers place billions of dollars into private banks that routinely exploit and extract wealth from low-income communities and neighborhoods of color. Money that is earned by the working class is repurposed as finance capital that chases after the greatest profits it can find, regardless of the social costs. However, here in New York, we have an alternative: we can establish— as S17262A/A5782 does— a system of public banks that democratizes credit, directs New Yorkers’ money toward socially valuable projects, and ensures that working people have meaningful oversight over how their money is used.

Progressive Income Tax (S2622/A4604)

Our current income tax is essentially a flat tax. Those who make $200,000 per year in income pay the same rate of tax as those who make $1 million per year. Tax rates should increase progressively as incomes increase. The progressive income tax would only increase taxes on the top 5% of income earners in New York State.

Marcela in a wheelchair on hungerstrike

Capital Gains Surcharge (S2522/A3352)

Right now, rich people make much of their income from investments like stocks—not from their jobs. The federal government taxes investment income at a much lower rate than it taxes the income we make at our jobs. New York can fix this by adding a tax to investment income that’s equal to the tax break the rich receive from the federal government.

Heir’s Tax (S3462/A4643)

Many rich people make their money not from going to work, but from inheriting enormous sums of money. Working people pay taxes on the entirety of the income they make each year—the income they make from work—but rich people can make $5 million in a year through inheritance and pay no tax on that money. We can fix this by taxing the inherited wealth of heirs. Only the top 1% of inheritances would be affected, and only amounts in excess of $250,000, but this simple change to the tax code would raise $8 billion annually.

Phara with a meagaphone at a tax the rich rally

Wealth Tax Amendment (S4699/A6257)

The New York State Constitution has restricted the direct taxation of ‘intangible’ assets since 1938. A prohibition initially enacted to protect the ‘financial supremacy’ of New York City has stood in the way for far too long, shielding so-called ‘intangible assets’ from direct taxation. We need to change New York’s constitution so that we can enact a true and direct wealth tax.

Corporate Tax (S2833/A4595)

In 2017, Trump’s tax cuts reduced the federal corporate profit tax rate from 35% to 21%, and Trump cut taxes on real estate businesses by 20%. New York can end these tax breaks in our state so that businesses pay the same tax as they did three years ago. Doing this would raise $9 billion every year.

Financial Transaction Tax (S3980/A5215)

Unlike other major financial centers like London and Hong Kong, New York currently doesn’t place any tax on financial transactions. The financial industry is the largest industry in New York State; it makes up 30% of the state economy. This bill places small taxes on trades of stocks, bonds, and derivatives. (A similar tax on stocks existed in New York until 1981.) This change in the tax code would raise $9 billion every year.

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Education

Jabari and Marcela at a rally for PSC-CUNY

Past generations fought for—and won—free education for all children in public schools because they recognized that education is a basic right that cannot be left to market forces or reserved solely to those who can afford it. Today, that same struggle continues for early childhood education through higher education.

New Deal for CUNY (S4461/A5843)

The imposition of tuition at CUNY during the fiscal crisis of the 1970s was a direct assault on one of NYC’s most important working class institutions. The last five decades of tuition increases and cuts are a prime example of how institutionalized racism and austerity hurt working New Yorkers. The New Deal for CUNY would eliminate undergraduate tuition, rebuild CUNY’s crumbling facilities, end the system of adjunct exploitation, and hire much-needed mental health and advising staff. Passing the New Deal for CUNY and eliminating tuition for undergraduates would cost $1.7 billion, less than 1% of the state operating budget.

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Universal Childcare (S7595/A8623)

New York’s child care infrastructure is in crisis. Many parents have no access to affordable or quality care, and many child care providers earn below the minimum wage. Decades of treating and funding child care as a private service rather than vital public infrastructure have left the system on the verge of collapse. Although some piecemeal approaches and temporary solutions have kept New York’s child care system on life support, many child care centers have already been forced to close, and parents are struggling to access the child care they need. Today, remaining child care availability is largely due to a dramatically underpaid workforce overwhelmingly made up of women—especially Black women and women of color—who are paid wages that leave the majority in or near poverty. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made matters worse, underscoring the many weaknesses of our child care system. This legislation would expand New York State’s capacity over a period of four years and create a system where child care is truly universal and free at the point of service—just like our public school system—and where early childhood educators are paid adequate wages that are at parity with that of public school teachers.

Jabari with a group of kids and childcare workers.

Reinstatement of TAP grants (S4464/A2322)

There is no reason that incarcerated individuals should be excluded from educational attainment. S4464/A2322 reinstates Tuition Assistance Program grants to incarcerated people so that they can achieve their post-secondary degree, bringing dignity and opportunity to them and to their communities once home.

Healthcare

Julia at a healthcare event

Credit: Health and Hospitals, Woodhull Hospital

Healthcare is a basic human right. Today, our health system produces enormous inequality in the quality of care afforded to people: some are able to access high-quality, life-prolonging treatment or advanced techniques to ensure comfort even during illness, while others experience debt and expenses so prohibitive that basic preventative care is all but impossible to receive. In communities where industry was previously dominant, healthcare jobs remain some of the most well paid work available, particularly among women of color. Our health system should promote dignity for workers and care recipients alike, and should be a centerpiece of our vision for an economy that runs for the many—not the few.

Fair Pay for Home Care (S5374/A6329)

For many of our seniors, especially working class seniors, options for quality long term care are extremely limited. Nursing homes and Adult Care Facilities can offer care that verges on abuse, and the experience of residential treatment for the elderly can often produce feelings of loneliness and pain. In the wake of the myriad nursing home deaths in 2020, New York needs to invest in expanding access to home care and ensure that seniors who are able can remain in their homes and communities well into their lives. Fair Pay for Home Care guarantees dignity for patients and workers by raising the minimum wage of home care, which will boost the availability of home care services while also improving the lives of those predominantly women of color working in the field who dedicate their lives to care for our elderly.

Ending Mandatory 24-hour Shifts for Home Care (S359A/A3145A)

New York is currently experiencing a massive shortage in the availability of long term care, harming both our seniors and the workers who provide those services. In some cases, the hours required of home care workers serving the poorest communities can be outright abusive, demanding significant unpaid work. S359A/A3145A would overturn this egregious reality, requiring 24-hour care cases be staffed in two twelve-hour shifts, and further protecting workers against employer retaliation. As our state faces a growing population in need of long term care, this bill will ensure fair compensation for home care workers, better care for home care recipients, and a robust place for home care in our economy.

New York Health Act (S5474/A6058)

We believe in a society where healthcare is provided to all and treated as a human right, rather than treated as a commodity. This legislation, which was first introduced thirty years ago, would establish a single-payer health care system within the State of New York. Moreover, it has the votes to pass—at least on paper. It will take a big push this year to pass this legislation over the objections of the insurance industry, however.

Jabari and Zohran dressed as firefighters.

Credit: Campaign for New York Health

Repeal the Global Medicaid Cap

For more than a decade, Governor Cuomo’s policy of capping increases in Medicaid spending has starved working class and poor New Yorkers of the quality care they deserve. New Yorkers deserve a well-funded state health program that ensures quality care for all, regardless of ability to pay. Removing this arbitrary spending limit will ensure better quality care for those who work and will pave the way to expanding Medicaid to broader segments of the population: vital for attacking the unaffordability of healthcare for middle income families.

Indigent Care Pool Reform (S5954/A6883)

Since 1983, New York has had a fund dedicated to ensuring that safety-net hospitals, which serve a large portion of poor New Yorkers, are able to continue to function. Unfortunately, this fund has poured money into hospitals that do not serve poor communities over the past few years, effectively starving hospitals in working class communities of vital funding. This bill will change the funding distribution by increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates for safety net and qualified safety net hospitals, committing funding to critical access hospitals and sole community hospitals, and growing existing programs for financially distressed hospitals.

Coverage For All (S1572/A880)

Today, 154,000 New Yorkers are uninsured because of their immigration status. Federal programs like Medicaid currently exclude undocumented immigrants. As a result, many delay care or avoid it altogether. Coverage for All would create a state-funded Essential Plan for all New Yorkers making up to 200% of the Federal Poverty Level, irrespective of immigration status. It would cost the State over $350 million annually.

Set Limits on For-Profit Nursing Homes (S5269/A5842)

Forty-two percent of long-term care recipients in New York State receive their care in nursing homes, two-thirds of which are for-profit. New York’s COVID-19 response revealed widespread corruption in the management of New York’s for-profit nursing homes when thousands of elderly New Yorkers died after Governor Andrew Cuomo pushed patients into for-profit nursing homes. The State must now act to limit for-profit nursing homes; S5269/A5824 directs the Public Health and Health Planning Council to deny the construction or expansion of any for-profit nursing homes.

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Housing

We believe that all New Yorkers should have a safe, stable, and affordable place to live. In order for this to happen, the power of the real estate industry must be reduced, and tenants must be empowered to organize for improved conditions and resident control. This requires investments in public and supportive housing, funding for rental assistance, and key tenant protections.

Zohran at a housing protest

Good Cause Eviction (S3082/A5573)

Over four million tenants throughout New York State have no protection from retaliatory evictions or predatory rent hikes. Good Cause Eviction would prevent landlords from evicting their tenants without cause and would tie rent increases to inflation. This bill would provide an opportunity for tenants to challenge their evictions in court, give vulnerable tenants the right to remain in their homes, and massively increase opportunities for tenant organizing across the state. It would also stabilize the real estate market and make it harder for predatory landlords to flip properties by evicting tenants.

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Repealing 421-A (S260A/A1931A)

Currently, the 421-A tax break functions as a giveaway to luxury developers and fails to provide promised affordable housing. It is the most expensive tax break in the state: it cost the state $1.7 billion in FY2021, exceeding the entire capital budget of the New York City Housing Authority and Department of Housing Preservation and Development. The 421-A program must be repealed.

Phara with a group of tenant union leaders

Credit: Crown Heights Tenant Union

Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) (S3157/A5971)

Tenants should have the first right and opportunity to purchase their homes if their buildings come up for sale. TOPA would allow tenants to form a tenant association to bid on a building and democratically run it as a co-operative, limiting displacement and speculation.

Housing Access Voucher Program (HAVP) (S2804A/A3701)

With over 92,000 homeless people in the state, it is urgent that we invest in rental assistance that will allow homeless people to have stable housing. HAVP is a statewide rental subsidy for low-income families that covers people on fixed incomes. It covers everyone on fixed incomes (public assistance, social security disability, retirement, etc.) and people who work low wage jobs and cannot afford rent. HAVP will be evenly divided between homeless families and those at imminent risk of eviction.

Housing Our Neighbors with Dignity Act Funding (HONDA)

Last year, we fought hard to pass the Housing Our Neighbors with Dignity Act, allowing distressed hotels to be converted into permanently affordable, rent-stabilized housing for formerly homeless people. However, the funding necessary to carry out the conversions was not included in the state budget. The FY23 budget should include $1 billion for this purpose to create new, permanently affordable housing to keep our neighbors off the streets.

Jabari at a stop evictions rally

Credit: Brittainy Newman

Billions in Funding for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)

NYCHA public housing stands as the only major stock of decommodified and deeply affordable housing in New York City, yet it has fallen into deep disrepair with residents experiencing deplorable conditions. The State must re-assume financial responsibility for NYCHA by committing $3.4 billion in State Capital funding and $2.8 billion in Operating funding to ensure that NYCHA can remain financially solvent, spend all budgeted Capital, establish vocational resident training programs, support Resident Management corporations, and address its work order backlog.

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Immigration

Julia with a group of people holding a Make The Road Banner

All people deserve an equal, dignified existence and the ability to live free of the harassment of state authorities—regardless of their immigration status. Centuries of capitalism and imperialism, and their continuance today, have created a global system of unequal development which manifests in social, political, and economic instability. Climate change caused by capitalist industry is destroying ecosystems and ways of life worldwide. Those who come to the United States are refugees from the brutal conditions that are in large part the consequence of our country’s policies. We are fighting for legislation that expands rights and protections to all, regardless of when they migrate, to end the stratification of workers on the basis of citizenship status.

Dignity Not Detention (S7373/A7099A)

Immigration detention is inhumane and deadly, undermines public safety, and harms not only the individuals detained but their loved ones and communities too. Tying New York’s immigration contracts to profit from the detention of immigrants fuels a larger deportation machine, which separates people from their loved ones and forces them into human cages. Dignity Not Detention would end the practice of jailing New York immigrants as they face deportation, reuniting families and communities and enabling them to more capably fight deportation.

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Emiliy at New York For All Rally

New York for All (S3076A/A2328A)

New York agencies and officials should not obtain or disclose information relating to a person’s immigration status. It is not the job of New York’s police, courts, jails, prisons, or other state or local agencies to assist the federal government in immigration enforcement. New York for All would ensure that all of our neighbors are safe and won’t have ICE called on them by local or state officials.

Labor

Marcela marching with a group holding a sign listing days on hunger strike Zohran cheering with a group after winning the Taxi Medalion fight

Over the course of the pandemic, the vast majority of workers who make our state run have been repeatedly told they were “essential.” Yet these same workers still lack some fundamental rights and basic protections at work. Even though it is the labor of working people that allows our state to function, the billionaire class has exerted so much power over elected officials that these workers' needs go ignored and unmet. The Socialists in Office support legislation that will shift power from the few to the many, and that will empower working people both on and off the clock.

Excluded No More (S8165/A9037)

Our current unemployment system leaves behind workers who contribute to our economy and society. Many are prohibited from accessing benefits simply due to immigration status. We believe in a permanent solution that would allow our undocumented siblings to access the same benefits as the rest of the working class.

Emiliy with UMEC workers

Fund the New York Health and Essential Rights (HERO) Act

Last year, the State legislature passed the NY HERO Act, acknowledging the need to strengthen protection for workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, we need to fund it properly. A $50 million allocation to the Department of Labor will enable it to: fully investigate workplace issues and enforce protections for workers; fund education and outreach so workers know their rights; provide funds for the Hazard Abatement Board (whose funding was cut from $6.2 million to $2.9 million during the pandemic) to allocate to organizations for workplace health and safety initiatives; and provide grants for small businesses to conduct critical ventilation upgrades.

Zohran cheering with a group after winning the Taxi Medalion fight

Credit: Kara Mccurdy

Classification of Workers as Employees (S1999/A5772)

The gig economy is built on a pool of low-wage, no-rights workers. Companies like Amazon, Uber, and Lyft benefit from a gap in the law allowing these ‘independent contractors’ to work without benefits (including healthcare, retirement, and protections). Meanwhile, these companies rake in sky-high profits off workers’ backs. S1999/A5772 would finally codify these workers as employees and ensure an end to this exploitation.

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About The NYS Socialists in Office

Socialists in Office is the group of elected officials that works together in the NYS state legislature to advance a socialist vision for working class people across our state.

Socialists in Office Members

Headshot of Jabari Brisport

Senator Jabari Brisport

represents New York’s 25th State Senate district which includes Fort Greene, Boerum Hill, Red Hook, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Sunset Park, Gowanus, and Park Slope. He is a third-generation Caribbean-American who was born in Bed-Stuy and raised in Prospect Heights. He was a middle school math teacher until his inauguration into the State Senate when he became New York’s first Black LGBTQ+ legislator.

Headshot of Julia Salazar

Senator Julia Salazar

represents New York’s 18th State Senate District, including the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bushwick, Cypress Hills, Greenpoint and Williamsburg, as well as parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville and East New York. Upon her election in 2018, she became the youngest woman elected in the history of the New York State Senate.

Headshot of Phara Souffrant Forrest

Assemblymember Phara Souffrant Forrest

represents the 57th Assembly District, which consists of the neighborhoods of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill as well as parts of Bed Stuy, Prospect Heights and Crown Heights. Prior to her inauguration, Phara worked as a maternal health nurse and organized tenants in the neighborhoods she now represents.

Headshot of Emily Gallagher

Assemblymember Emily Gallagher

is an activist, grassroots organizer and former nonprofit professional who serves as the Assemblymember for New York’s 50th District (Greenpoint, Williamsburg Clinton Hill, Ft. Greene, Brooklyn). Gallagher's career has been focused on fostering a relationship of mutual empowerment between local communities and the institutions that serve them.

Headshot of Marcela Mitaynes

Assemblymember Marcela Mitaynes

represents the 51st Assembly District, including Red Hook, Sunset Park and northern Bay Ridge. She is a Peruvian immigrant and has been a tenant organizer in her community for more than 10 years, playing a key role in the passage of the 2019 Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act. She is the first Peruvian-American in the New York State legislature.

Headshot of Zohran Kwame Mamdani

Assemblymember Zohran Kwame Mamdani

represents the 36th Assembly District and its neighborhoods of Astoria, Ditmars-Steinway, and Astoria Heights. Previously a foreclosure prevention housing counselor, Zohran is the first South Asian man and first Ugandan to serve in the NYS Assembly.