Principles for Ethical Budget Decisions
in New York State
We, of the Christian tradition believe it is of utmost importance to consider the moral basis of decisions we make. Our holy writings call us to care for those society neglects and to be daring in our interactions with institutions that stray from the doing of justice.
Budgets are moral documents that reflect a society’s values. Our government is responsible for protecting the least of its citizens and providing for its most vulnerable members. Addressing basic human needs is a fundamental responsibility of our government.
In the give and take of political debate moral principles are crucial. Without such principles firmly grounding deliberations, so-called “solutions” often endanger the vulnerable while benefiting the comfortable. We suggest addressing the budget crisis based on what kind of society we want to live in and submit the following principles as guidelines for how the state raises and spends money:
Every human being has dignity and worth by their very personhood.
The common good needs to be considered in all deliberations and policy decisions.
Providing for basic human needs benefits all of society.
Education is necessary to equip children to face the challenges of the future. In this society only a strong public education system can ensure this opportunity for all children.
All persons have a right to basic preventative, primary and long-term health care services.
Work is important to human well-being. One of the major tasks of today's society is to seek ways for all who are able to work to find meaningful employment at a livable wage.
As the economy worsens, reliable jobs with decent wages disappear, and the gap between the "haves" and "have-nots" widens. Fairness and balance need to guide decisions affecting profit-makers and workers.
Our criminal justice system needs to be structured in ways that contribute to the wholeness of victims, offenders and the community. Issues of class and race which unevenly affect arrests, sentencing, treatment while incarcerated, parole and the use of the death penalty need to be addressed.
Decisions of a society need to take into account the health of land, forests, air, streams and seas as well as profits and jobs. We believe the essential needs of all people can be met while preserving a viable habitat for future generations.
We commend these principles to decision-makers as a touchstone to guide their work as they seek to resolve present and future economic problems of our state. We pledge to work with them toward public policies that reflect these shared values.