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Legislators react to Cuomo tax

STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 12/16/2011, 11 a.m.

Last week, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that he plans on raising taxes on New York's wealthiest residents, which was applauded by large segments of the state's population.

The new tax plan includes an increase on single filers who make over $1 million annually and a hike on joint filers making over $2 million per year. The hikes would be accompanied by lower rates for state residents who make $150,000 or less a year.

According to Cuomo, under the new rate structure, 4.4 million New Yorkers would see tax cuts, including a $690 million reduction for middle-class taxpayers. In addition, all taxpayers would see a tax reduction or no change. Going forward, the brackets would increase with the rate of inflation and would expire in Dec. 31, 2014.

While there was shock in some political quarters, many politicians were happy, if not gleeful over the governor's change in position, as he had pledged earlier that he would not raise taxes at all.

"There are major issues facing New York State. Governor Cuomo, Speaker [Sheldon] Silver and Majority Leader [Dean] Skelos have put forth a framework for tackling some of those issues," said New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli in a statement the AmNews.

"While movement on these issues is welcome, it is critical that we spend within our means and prioritize our growing capital needs while creating jobs and addressing the tax code. Let's not repeat the mistakes of the past. I will analyze the details as the specifics of the agreement are made public," DiNapoli said.

The AmNews, playing devil's advocate with State Sen. Bill Perkins, asked him to respond to a cynic who might think Cuomo's move was simply a ploy to drive people's minds away from issues like hydrofracking.

"You have desperately captured the mentality of the [state] Senate," said Perkins. "But we are vigilant with hydrofracking as well. He's not buying us off from dealing with other vital concerns...We have a larger agenda."

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. agreed with many working-class New Yorkers that it was about time Cuomo looked out for the little guy.

"It is time to let those earning the most in our state pay their fair share and that we spend that added revenue on creating much-needed jobs and help put our state's economy on a path for growth," Diaz said. "Through this plan, Bronx middle-class and working-class families will receive a tax break, one that can make a big difference in their day-to-day lives."

However, one person remained staunch in his refusal to raise taxes-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg isn't a fan of Cuomo's plan.

"You have to look at everything, but fundamentally you cannot tax your ways out of problems," Bloomberg told reporters last week.

Fortunately for most New Yorkers, Bloomberg doesn't have much of a say in Albany.