Sales Tax Increase Passes
July 10th, 2009
The half-percent sales tax increase Mayor Michael Bloomberg wanted to balance the city budget just passed the Senate 43-19 . The bill had been defeated by Democrats when they held a legally questionable session on June 30. After a few procedural votes the measure was ready for a do over.
The bill might not have been ready for Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr.. The senator delivered another bizare performance before the bill came to a vote. Diaz stood up and begged Republican Leader Sen. Dean Skelos to support him in voting against the measure.
“I voted with you to kill taxes for your area,” said Diaz touting a previous vote he made in the evening. “I crossed the aisle to go with you to help you guys so you could stop taxes. Now I’m asking you, now join with me. Now join me. Now show me that you care. Show me that you are my friends. Show me that I can work with you when we need each other.”
Diaz said he opposed the tax because it hurt the working-class residents of his district. He also mentioned something about coconuts. Senators pleaded with him to sit down but Diaz taunted them implying he might go on for a full hour.
After Diaz finished Sen. Liz Krueger, the bill’s sponsor, rose to voice her support and ask Republicans to “cross the aisle” and vote with her. She thanked Diaz for his “interesting analysis.” Krueger pointed out the bill carried a home rule message from the city and was just like a slew of other local bills passed earlier in the evening for other municipalities. She said the city, like other municipalities, is facing trouble balancing its budget and needed the income from the tax to do so.
Sen. Hiram Monerrate stood to say that he would be voting against the bill. Monserrate argued the tax increase will hurt the “middle class” and the “working poor.” He also said the bill would hurt businesses in New York by sending New Yorkers to shop in New Jersey where the tax burden is lower. “It’s wrong on the left, it’s wrong on the right,” he concluded.
Sen. Kevin Parker then said he intended to vote against the bill. Parker said the difference between the city’s sales tax increase and others voted on this evening is that “it is far greater.” He railed against Bloomberg as an out of touch billionaire who is relying on taxes to fix his problem.
After the vote was recorded Skelos explained his vote. He said he voted in favor of the measure for two reasons. The first was that the bill carried a home rule message. The second he explained to Diaz was because “You said if I vote against it you would come to this side. I don’t think we could go through 31-31 again.” The room erupted in laughter.
The session was then adjourned. Paterson has called for an extraordinary session for today at 3 p.m. but Smith indicated that Paterson might withdraw the request if the Senate can agree on a joint return date with the Assembly. Senators would not be happy with the prospect of having another session today after carrying on into the wee hours of the morning (session on the 4th nearly killed them), but public sympathy for them dried up weeks ago.By David King on July 10, 2009, 1:02 am
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