Saturday, March 28, 2009

Youth Service Providers in Queens Hold Press Conference on the Devastating Impact of Budget Cuts...


In support of Richmond Hill Public Library, NY Alliance for Healthcare Reform (AHR) speaks against the devastating proposed budget cuts to essential services in communities across the state. Rafael Gomez Luna and Jocelyn Bueno, outreach committee members of AHR stood in solidarity with a contingency of community-based organizations. The message sent was: "Stop Draconian cuts that will hurt the future of our youth with Fair Share Tax Reform"

Black, Latino, Filipino, and South Asian immigrant youth service providers throughout Queens gathered today at the site of the Queens Library in Richmond Hill to speak out against the massive cuts on youth services. The Queens Library is a place many youth in Queens turn to for homework help, after-school programs, yet the Queens Library stands to face over 18% in state budget cuts that will be augmented by city budget cuts. This will cut the number of hours the Library is open as well as the number of free programs to youth it can provide. Groups spoke about how the youth service cuts will cut off windows of opportunity in their communities.

The Queens Library is not just a place to keep books but a full-service community center,” said Children’s Librarian Laura Bultman from the Corona Branch. “We provide homework help to kids whose parents don’t speak English. The library is a quiet place for these kids to work if they don’t have a place to do schoolwork at home.”

Chief External Affairs Officer of the Library, James Van Bramer sent a clear message to elected officials in the Capitol: “The Queens Library serves more children in Queens County than any other organization. We implore our friends in Albany to find a more equitable way to avoid these drastic service cuts.”

The Executive Directors of South Asian Youth Action (SAYA) and Filipino-American Human Services, Inc. (FAHSI) were joined by Peter Fontanes of the League of Latin-American Citizens (LULAC) in describing how cuts in library and after-school services will affect their communities.

Fontanes warned of consequences from the Governor’s proposed cuts: “The after-school programs provided by this library open up the minds and spirits of our people. Children and immigrant families are being told that the doors of opportunity will be shut on them. I ask the Mayor and Governor not to budget out families. If our kids don’t have a library and community center to go to, they will end up on the street.”

Community member Buddha Allah had the last word: “Youth service cuts are of concern to me as a grandfather. There is an alternative. The cuts can be avoided by fairly taxing those 3 percent of New Yorkers making more than $250,000 annually. New York State already has a form of progressive taxation because a couple making $30,000 doesn’t pay income taxes. Passing Fair Share Tax Reform will be in keeping with the progressive tax philosophy we already have in New York.”