The Capitol’s ‘Million Dollar Staircase’ is now the ‘Millionaires’ Tax Staircase’

Setting the scene here at the Capitol:

Organizers have renamed the Million Dollar Staircase the “Millionaires’ Tax Staircase.”

There are hundreds of demonstrators from SUNY and CUNY.

AQE’s Billy Easton announced that 70 large pizzas would be delivered to the Capitol at 7 pm, the largest pizza delivery in state history. He said s’mores would be served this evening and protesters would have breakfast in bed “not the way the millionaires have it, but bagels for those who have slept in over night.”

Hannah, a nine-year-old Galway student stood in front of cameras with the poise of an adult and said that she had been energized and angered. Energized by the chance to come and protest and angered at what cuts were doing to her school. She said her teacher Ms. Hutchinson “told me to stand up for what I believe in. That’s why I’m here today.” She said adults have told her that schools will survive but “schools are not about surviving, its about being excellent.”

Maria Pacheco, a middle school Spanish teacher and president of the Mohanasen Teachers Association said Gov. Cuomo is out of touch when he says the budget problems can be solved by school efficiences. “It’s about children and their futures. It’s not about millionaires. We need to choose education over millionaires.” Her school is cutting foreign language courses, art and music.

NYSUT Executive Vice President Andy Pallotta said the purpose of the rally was to ensure that “people voices are heard, the voices of ordinary New Yorkers.” Pallotta pointed to the $1.4 billion in education cuts last year and the $1.3 billion in this year’s budget and said: “This generation doesn’t get another chance. We have a knowledge-based economy. Let’s make sure we fund it.”

Many people came bearing signs. A few examples:

  • From Egypt to Albany
  • It’s Wall Street’s turn to bail us out
  • Protect children not millionaires

One more piece of news: The Senate and Assembly have locked their galleries, preventing access to the public. There are noisy demonstrations through the halls and there is a rumor floating through the Capitol that the League of Women Voters and Mark Mishler, an Albany attorney, may file a suit against the state for violating the open meetings law and preventing the public from hearing debate over the budget. (Mishler is a former president of the Albany City Schools PTA.)

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