Protestors gave Governor Andrew Cuomo a headache Sunday night as he tried to gain the support of black and Latino lawmakers for the billions of dollars of proposed cuts in his budget. NY1's Erin Billups filed the following report.
While looking to strengthen his relationship with the Association of Black and Latino Legislators at their annual caucus gala Sunday night, Governor Andrew Cuomo fought not to be drowned out by a group of protestors led by City Councilman Charles Barron and his wife, State Assemblywoman Inez Barron.
“How are you tonight Charles? I can’t see who it is, but I know who it is," said Cuomo.
Yelling over them, Cuomo promised he and the legislature will meet the coming challenges together.
“You’re not going to divide New Yorkers," he said.
The Barrons may have been the most vocal at the Sunday night dinner, but they’re not alone. A majority of Democrats in the state Assembly and many in the state Senate are also pushing Cuomo to extend a tax on the wealthiest New Yorkers, which is set to expire at the end of the year.
"He may not really believe that everybody should share the pain. So we’re saying that there’s going to be resistance to any budget that’s going to kill our educational plans," said State Senator Ruth Hassell Thompson of the Bronx.
It seems this year’s caucus brought renewed vigor to members' desire to bring relief to the less fortunate and tax the rich, as leaders like Reverend Al Sharpton challenged lawmakers earlier in the day to fight against the proposed cuts to education and pension reforms that public employee unions are resisting.
“You cannot spare the super rich and penalize those that are helpless and vulnerable," Sharpton said.
Despite the rallying cries to tax the rich and restore the cuts to education and other programs, Governor Cuomo is not backing down from his stance against taxes.
"I don't believe in increasing taxes. I believe it's counterproductive for the state. I believe more people will leave the state and you'll have less revenue," said the governor.
As for the pressure, Cuomo says he’s confident people agree with the path the state is on. He says just look at the polls.
“Astronomical ratings right? If you take that barometer then you would say people accept the budget that I put out and the track that I put out," Cuomo said.
Those that are unhappy now say they plan to keep fighting, meaning the budget process promises to be a bitter battle.