As Legislature Votes To Close Looming State Budget Gap, Serrano Warns Against Cutting Core Services

José M. Serrano

August 21, 2008

Says it would be a repeat of mistakes made in the 1970s

Today Senator José M. Serrano urged his colleagues to protect low-income residents during tough economic times. With both houses of the legislature poised to cut services across the state, Serrano expressed concern that the pain of these cuts is not being shared by everyone.

"I grew up in the 1970s in the South Bronx … and I saw what a fiscal downturn and what mismanagement from a financial standpoint can do to communities," he said today on the floor of the State Senate. He added that population begins to decrease when "you cut services to the point that people feel unsafe and do not feel they are protected."

He continued: "The minute we start cutting those services to a point that they are no longer effective, is when we lose the very population and tax base we want to keep."

The Senator said that balancing the budget will not just require cuts, but adding new revenue streams as well. "We have to look to create a fairer tax system," he said, "where the very wealthy in this state, who are protected enormously by tax loopholes and by shelters, that they do their fair share as all of us are doing more than our share."

Citing earlier remarks by his colleague Senator Bill Perkins, Serrano said, "We must share the pain and spread the pain in a much more equitable fashion to avoid the mistakes that were made in the 1970s."

He added, "If we do not create that fair and equitable tax system, which many people are afraid to talk about, we will continue to have this disparity that exists now."