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Unions salute Cuomo for tax bill

STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 12/14/2011, 6 p.m.

Increasing taxes on the wealthy and cutting taxes for the middle class? Is this really New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo? Yes it is.

Last week, the governor announced sweeping tax reforms that would restructure New York State's tax code and MTA payroll tax. As part of the deal, the new tax code would increase taxes on those who make $2 million or more and cut taxes for those making between $40,000 and $150,000.

"I am pleased that this proposed agreement realizes long-held Senate Republican priorities like cutting the corporate franchise tax for manufacturers, reducing the job-killing MTA payroll tax for small businesses, eliminating New York's stealth tax by indexing tax brackets and deductions and building our reserves, along with providing additional flood relief to support job growth in devastated communities," said Cuomo last week.

Union leaders, while still fighting some labor battles, were nonetheless appreciative of Cuomo's new tax bill.

"I want to thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership in crafting a wide-ranging solution to the state's budget problems," said United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew.

"The agreement worked out between the governor, Speaker Sheldon Silver and Majority Leader Dean Skelos-a stark contrast to the political deadlock in Washington-will bring more fairness to the state tax code and help ensure that children in our public schools will begin to see restorations from the devastating education cuts of recent years."

In this year's budget negotiations, Cuomo said he would increase education and health care spending by 4 percent in 2012. With this new tax agreement, the spending increase shouldn't mess with the budget much.

Matthew Nerzig, spokesperson for 32BJ, said Cuomo's tax bill would "raise revenue and create infrastructure that would boost economy and create jobs." 1199 the SEIU President George Gresham hopes that Cuomo's policies go nationwide.

"We thank our elected leaders for forging this innovative plan, and we hope Washington can take a page from New York for the sake of working-class people across the country," Gresham said.