Gotham Gazette Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/millionaire-s-tax 2017-10-24T00:25:42+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com In Albany, De Blasio and Democrats Push ‘Mansion Tax’ 2017-03-22T04:00:00+00:00 2017-03-22T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6826:in-albany-de-blasio-and-democrats-to-push-mansion-tax Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/bdb_albany_mansion_tax_rally_rachel.jpg" alt="bdb albany mansion tax rally rachel" width="600" height="514" />&nbsp;</p> <p>De Blasio in Albany (photo: Rachel Silberstein/Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio journeyed to Albany Wednesday to rally with Democratic legislators and activists for the extension of the “millionaires’ tax,” set to expire this year, as well as the “mansion tax,” a proposal the mayor has been pushing since 2015. De Blasio and his allies called for both to be part of the new state budget due by April 1.</p> <p>Citing the threats of deep federal budget cuts from President Donald Trump’s administration and a Republican Congress and the likelihood of tax cuts for the wealthy, de Blasio struck a populist tone as he pushed for the two taxes. The millionaires’ tax would continue across the state and is being backed strongly by Governor Andrew Cuomo, while the mansion tax would only apply to New York City: an additional 2.5 percent marginal tax paid by the buyers of homes valued at $2 million or more, the revenue from which would directly fund rental subsidies for up to 25,000 seniors in New York City. Cuomo has not given a clear position on the mansion tax.</p> <p>When he spoke from the steps of the State Capitol’s historic “Million Dollar Staircase,” de Blasio was flanked by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and surrounded by dozens of Democratic lawmakers and advocates. The mayor said that the 2016 presidential election centered around issues of income inequality and the plight of the working class. However, he noted, the young Trump administration has responded with proposed tax cuts for the wealthy, corporations, and insurance companies.</p> <p>“There is an anger in this country and anger in this state as people feel they are being lied to. They thought they were going to get some relief from their economic distress,” said de Blasio. “What they are finding is quite the opposite, that the rich are getting richer.”</p> <p>Funds generated by the mansion tax, which has a steep road to passage through the Republican-controlled state Senate, would be earmarked for seniors 62-years-old and older who earn less than $50,000 per year. Citing recent sales data, the de Blasio administration says the policy would affect the top 4,500 residential real estate transactions in the upcoming year and generate approximately $336 million in 2018.</p> <p>The millionaires’ tax requires anyone earning more than $2.1 million a year to pay a state rate of 8.82 percent, rather than 6.85 percent, as is the rate for those making $40,000 per year. Gov. Cuomo has included a three-year extension of the sunsetting tax in his executive budget. In their one-house budget resolutions, the two legislative majorities took very different stances on the millionaires’ tax. Senate Republicans want to see the tax expire.</p> <p>The Assembly majority on the other hand, proposes an expansion of the current millionaires’ tax with additional tax brackets for the mega wealthy who earn more than $5 million, $10 million, and $100 million a year. The Assembly budget resolution also included the mansion tax that de Blasio wants, with the chamber’s bill sponsored by Brooklyn Assemblymember Steven Cymbrowitz, who chairs the housing committee.</p> <p>Speaker Heastie called the tax plan “fiscally and socially responsible.” "A tax for New York City’s highest earners to help fund critical services like education, healthcare, and infrastructure,” Heastie said, “is more important than ever as we are starting to see the true devastating effects of the radical leadership in our new federal government.”</p> <p>Cuomo, who wields significant influence in the deliberations over the state budget, made no mention of the mansion tax in his executive budget plan, and though he wants to extend the millionaires’ tax, he has expressed concern that expanding it as the Assembly has proposed could drive New York City’s wealthiest from the city.</p> <p>“People will take a certain amount of abuse and then there is a point,” <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/cuomo-raising-tax-wealthy-drive-n-y-article-1.2964919" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cuomo said</a> during a meeting with the New York Daily News editorial board. “The question is, what is that point? Nobody knows for sure, but you don’t want to reach that point.”</p> <p>Prospects for de Blasio’s mansion tax appear grim without the support of the governor, and given fierce opposition from Senate Republicans -- Majority Leader John Flanagan <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2017/01/flanagan-calls-de-blasios-mansion-tax-a-non-starter/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">has declared</a> the mansion tax a “non-starter.”</p> <p>Yet, de Blasio offered a series of points in arguing that the mansion tax is very much alive in the final week of budget negotiations.</p> <p>At a press appearance after the rally, de Blasio said he is confident support from civil rights groups and senior organizations like the AARP will have a mobilizing effect on the governor and Legislature. “AARP has enormous power to influence people on both sides of the aisle,” he said.</p> <p>Addressing naysayers, de Blasio reminded reporters that people used terms like “dead on arrival” about other progressive policy measures he’s championed in Albany, such as the city’s universal pre-kindergarten program, a $15 minimum wage, and paid family leave, each of which was passed in some form.</p> <p>De Blasio also revealed that a Senate version of the mansion tax bill would be introduced by Senator Diane Savino, a member of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) whose district includes a sliver of southern Brooklyn and parts of Staten Island. “We think with her leadership, that will help us to draw more support in the Senate and continue this momentum,” de Blasio told reporters.</p> <p>The eight-member IDC has a coalition agreement with Senate Republicans and the IDC is often able to push through its pet agenda items because of the leverage it has with the majority.</p> <p>When asked how she would get the GOP conference on board with the mansion tax, Savino said via email, "Like all legislation that I carry, I plan to lobby my colleagues on the mansion tax which could bring needed revenue to the city."</p> <p>Senate Republicans, who cling to a sliver of a majority in the chamber, appeared to be unmoved by the groundswell.</p> <p>Senate GOP spokesperson Scott Reif did not respond to a request for comment but tweeted at a Politico reporter Wednesday morning, writing, “Appreciate that @BilldeBlasio can still find his way to Albany, but this idea has already been rejected.”</p> <p>Later, Reif added in response to a Gotham Gazette reporter, “We support cutting taxes, not raising them.”</p> <p>Cuomo was in New York City during the Wednesday rally for the funeral of legendary New York Daily News journalist Jimmy Breslin. While Cuomo and de Blasio are engaged in a long-running feud, de Blasio acknowledged that he needs the backing of the governor to get the mansion tax passed. De Blasio urged Cuomo to consider the senior citizens who stand benefit from the rental subsidy the tax would fund.</p> <p>“I want the governor and everyone else to remember this is to benefit 25,000 seniors,” de Blasio said. “We need the Governor’s support. There are a lot of seniors depending on him. And look, the voices of seniors are going to be felt. And I know in terms of the New York City Senate delegation, they are all going to hear from AARP. They are all going to hear the strong voices of seniors on this matter...I think that is going to be a game-changer.”</p> <p>The expansion of the millionaires’ tax and creation of a mansion tax would signal wins for the first-term mayor, who is up for reelection this November. De Blasio, who has been talking up the mansion tax since 2015, again laid out his case last week while on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show, putting it into the larger context of his fight against inequality, especially in the Trump era.</p> <p>“That is the kind of thing – bluntly – that we’re going to have to do. And if we don’t start addressing this reality of a growing senior population needs affordable housing we will rue the day, and the way we do that is by taxing the wealthy in fair ways and devoting those resources to senior housing,” de Blasio <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/askthemayor-hyper-local-housing-homeless" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">said in the March 10 radio interview</a>.</p> <p>On Thursday, de Blasio is scheduled to be back in New York City, visiting two senior centers to promote the mansion tax proposal.</p> <p>

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by Rachel Silberstein, State government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/bdb_albany_mansion_tax_rally_rachel.jpg" alt="bdb albany mansion tax rally rachel" width="600" height="514" />&nbsp;</p> <p>De Blasio in Albany (photo: Rachel Silberstein/Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio journeyed to Albany Wednesday to rally with Democratic legislators and activists for the extension of the “millionaires’ tax,” set to expire this year, as well as the “mansion tax,” a proposal the mayor has been pushing since 2015. De Blasio and his allies called for both to be part of the new state budget due by April 1.</p> <p>Citing the threats of deep federal budget cuts from President Donald Trump’s administration and a Republican Congress and the likelihood of tax cuts for the wealthy, de Blasio struck a populist tone as he pushed for the two taxes. The millionaires’ tax would continue across the state and is being backed strongly by Governor Andrew Cuomo, while the mansion tax would only apply to New York City: an additional 2.5 percent marginal tax paid by the buyers of homes valued at $2 million or more, the revenue from which would directly fund rental subsidies for up to 25,000 seniors in New York City. Cuomo has not given a clear position on the mansion tax.</p> <p>When he spoke from the steps of the State Capitol’s historic “Million Dollar Staircase,” de Blasio was flanked by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and surrounded by dozens of Democratic lawmakers and advocates. The mayor said that the 2016 presidential election centered around issues of income inequality and the plight of the working class. However, he noted, the young Trump administration has responded with proposed tax cuts for the wealthy, corporations, and insurance companies.</p> <p>“There is an anger in this country and anger in this state as people feel they are being lied to. They thought they were going to get some relief from their economic distress,” said de Blasio. “What they are finding is quite the opposite, that the rich are getting richer.”</p> <p>Funds generated by the mansion tax, which has a steep road to passage through the Republican-controlled state Senate, would be earmarked for seniors 62-years-old and older who earn less than $50,000 per year. Citing recent sales data, the de Blasio administration says the policy would affect the top 4,500 residential real estate transactions in the upcoming year and generate approximately $336 million in 2018.</p> <p>The millionaires’ tax requires anyone earning more than $2.1 million a year to pay a state rate of 8.82 percent, rather than 6.85 percent, as is the rate for those making $40,000 per year. Gov. Cuomo has included a three-year extension of the sunsetting tax in his executive budget. In their one-house budget resolutions, the two legislative majorities took very different stances on the millionaires’ tax. Senate Republicans want to see the tax expire.</p> <p>The Assembly majority on the other hand, proposes an expansion of the current millionaires’ tax with additional tax brackets for the mega wealthy who earn more than $5 million, $10 million, and $100 million a year. The Assembly budget resolution also included the mansion tax that de Blasio wants, with the chamber’s bill sponsored by Brooklyn Assemblymember Steven Cymbrowitz, who chairs the housing committee.</p> <p>Speaker Heastie called the tax plan “fiscally and socially responsible.” "A tax for New York City’s highest earners to help fund critical services like education, healthcare, and infrastructure,” Heastie said, “is more important than ever as we are starting to see the true devastating effects of the radical leadership in our new federal government.”</p> <p>Cuomo, who wields significant influence in the deliberations over the state budget, made no mention of the mansion tax in his executive budget plan, and though he wants to extend the millionaires’ tax, he has expressed concern that expanding it as the Assembly has proposed could drive New York City’s wealthiest from the city.</p> <p>“People will take a certain amount of abuse and then there is a point,” <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/cuomo-raising-tax-wealthy-drive-n-y-article-1.2964919" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cuomo said</a> during a meeting with the New York Daily News editorial board. “The question is, what is that point? Nobody knows for sure, but you don’t want to reach that point.”</p> <p>Prospects for de Blasio’s mansion tax appear grim without the support of the governor, and given fierce opposition from Senate Republicans -- Majority Leader John Flanagan <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2017/01/flanagan-calls-de-blasios-mansion-tax-a-non-starter/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">has declared</a> the mansion tax a “non-starter.”</p> <p>Yet, de Blasio offered a series of points in arguing that the mansion tax is very much alive in the final week of budget negotiations.</p> <p>At a press appearance after the rally, de Blasio said he is confident support from civil rights groups and senior organizations like the AARP will have a mobilizing effect on the governor and Legislature. “AARP has enormous power to influence people on both sides of the aisle,” he said.</p> <p>Addressing naysayers, de Blasio reminded reporters that people used terms like “dead on arrival” about other progressive policy measures he’s championed in Albany, such as the city’s universal pre-kindergarten program, a $15 minimum wage, and paid family leave, each of which was passed in some form.</p> <p>De Blasio also revealed that a Senate version of the mansion tax bill would be introduced by Senator Diane Savino, a member of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) whose district includes a sliver of southern Brooklyn and parts of Staten Island. “We think with her leadership, that will help us to draw more support in the Senate and continue this momentum,” de Blasio told reporters.</p> <p>The eight-member IDC has a coalition agreement with Senate Republicans and the IDC is often able to push through its pet agenda items because of the leverage it has with the majority.</p> <p>When asked how she would get the GOP conference on board with the mansion tax, Savino said via email, "Like all legislation that I carry, I plan to lobby my colleagues on the mansion tax which could bring needed revenue to the city."</p> <p>Senate Republicans, who cling to a sliver of a majority in the chamber, appeared to be unmoved by the groundswell.</p> <p>Senate GOP spokesperson Scott Reif did not respond to a request for comment but tweeted at a Politico reporter Wednesday morning, writing, “Appreciate that @BilldeBlasio can still find his way to Albany, but this idea has already been rejected.”</p> <p>Later, Reif added in response to a Gotham Gazette reporter, “We support cutting taxes, not raising them.”</p> <p>Cuomo was in New York City during the Wednesday rally for the funeral of legendary New York Daily News journalist Jimmy Breslin. While Cuomo and de Blasio are engaged in a long-running feud, de Blasio acknowledged that he needs the backing of the governor to get the mansion tax passed. De Blasio urged Cuomo to consider the senior citizens who stand benefit from the rental subsidy the tax would fund.</p> <p>“I want the governor and everyone else to remember this is to benefit 25,000 seniors,” de Blasio said. “We need the Governor’s support. There are a lot of seniors depending on him. And look, the voices of seniors are going to be felt. And I know in terms of the New York City Senate delegation, they are all going to hear from AARP. They are all going to hear the strong voices of seniors on this matter...I think that is going to be a game-changer.”</p> <p>The expansion of the millionaires’ tax and creation of a mansion tax would signal wins for the first-term mayor, who is up for reelection this November. De Blasio, who has been talking up the mansion tax since 2015, again laid out his case last week while on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show, putting it into the larger context of his fight against inequality, especially in the Trump era.</p> <p>“That is the kind of thing – bluntly – that we’re going to have to do. And if we don’t start addressing this reality of a growing senior population needs affordable housing we will rue the day, and the way we do that is by taxing the wealthy in fair ways and devoting those resources to senior housing,” de Blasio <a href="http://www.wnyc.org/story/askthemayor-hyper-local-housing-homeless" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">said in the March 10 radio interview</a>.</p> <p>On Thursday, de Blasio is scheduled to be back in New York City, visiting two senior centers to promote the mansion tax proposal.</p> <p>

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by Rachel Silberstein, State government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Beware of 'Common Sense' Arguments Against the Millionaire's Tax 2017-02-16T06:20:21+00:00 2017-02-16T06:20:21+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6759:beware-of-republicans-bearing-common-sense-arguments Samar Khurshid <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/16848033782_69665ea263_z.jpg" alt="Speaker Carl Heastie" width="600" height="401" /></p> <p>&nbsp;Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (photo: The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Higher taxes on New York’s wealthy are on the table in <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/6746-8-new-york-city-takeaways-from-cuomo-s-budget-de-blasio-s-testimony" target="_blank">three places</a> for this year’s budget negotiations. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Budget for 2018 includes an extension of the so-called "<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/18/nyregion/new-york-budget-millionaire-tax.html" target="_blank">millionaire’s tax</a>”. The state Assembly has decided to see the governor and raise him with their proposed “<a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2017/01/assembly-proposes-tax-hike-for-the-rich/" target="_blank">gazillionaire’s tax</a>”, while Mayor de Blasio has proposed a “<a href="http://nypost.com/2017/01/30/de-blasio-makes-another-push-for-mansion-tax/" target="_blank">mansion tax</a>”.</p> <p>The Democratic-controlled Assembly favors them all. The Republicans, who control the state Senate, are against all three. But the governor exerts a great deal of control over the New York State <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/02/16/albany-chronicles" target="_blank">budget process</a> and holds most of the cards. And while the governor is the one proposing the extension of the millionaire’s tax, he <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/cuomo-raising-tax-wealthy-drive-n-y-article-1.2964919" target="_blank">doesn’t appear</a> to support the others. So is there any reason for progressives to believe that the mansion tax, let alone the gazillionaire’s tax, might pass now?</p> <p>For starters, taxes on the wealthy are <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/11/trump_and_the_gop_have_massively_unpopular_tax_policies.html" target="_blank">broadly popular</a> with voters. Just like raising the <a href="http://www.people-press.org/2014/01/23/most-see-inequality-growing-but-partisans-differ-over-solutions/1-23-2014_03/" target="_blank">minimum wage</a>, even <a href="http://www.people-press.org/2015/03/19/federal-tax-system-seen-in-need-of-overhaul/" target="_blank">Republican voters</a> tend to favor these types of taxes, as do the <a href="http://www.cnbc.com/2014/05/06/cnbc-survey-shows-millionaires-want-higher-taxes-to-fix-inequality.html" target="_blank">wealthy themselves</a> irrespective of party affiliation. A recent <a href="http://auburnpub.com/blogs/eye_on_ny/siena-poll-most-voters-support-cuomo-s-free-college-tuition/article_0de6e0a8-e6a4-11e6-948b-77a6f23db81e.html" target="_blank">Siena Poll</a> showed New Yorkers in favor of extending the millionaire’s tax by a margin of 74 percent to 23 percent, with <a href="https://www.siena.edu/assets/files/news/SNY0117_Crosstabs_1298.pdf" target="_blank">61 percent of Republicans</a> on board along with 81 percent of Democrats.</p> <p>On the other hand, Republicans are <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2017/02/republicans-eyeing-statewide-run-tout-fiscal-bonafides/" target="_blank">offering arguments</a> that have worked before. They say that New York is already over-taxed, and that taxes on the high earners will just drive them to leave the state and take their job-creating business with them. Corporate-backed “non-partisan” groups <a href="http://pfnyc.org/news_press/statement-from-kathryn-wylde-president-ceo-of-the-partnership-for-new-york-city-on-assembly-democrats-high-earners-tax-proposal/" target="_blank">take the same position</a>, as Governor Cuomo often does <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/cuomo-raising-tax-wealthy-drive-n-y-article-1.2964919" target="_blank">as well</a>.</p> <p>If Republicans can be said to believe in just one thing, it is that progressive tax policies will drive the rich away and impoverish all who remain, bereft of “job creators”. From Ayn Rand and Galt’s Gulch, to Ronald Reagan and the Laffer Curve, to <a href="https://www.alec.org/publication/rich-states-poor-states/" target="_blank">ALEC</a> and <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2017/01/31/cnn_hire_hack_trump_advisor_to_spout_gibberish_about_economics.html" target="_blank">Stephen Moore</a> today, the argument that higher taxes will make the rich work less or move to some promised land of lower taxes is one of the most consistent pieces of Republican philosophy. But are any of their arguments actually grounded in observable reality?&nbsp;</p> <p>Republicans rarely cite any empirical research to back their claims. Why should they when it’s just “common sense”? But does reality back up the “common sense” of the GOP? The <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/beltway/2016/05/26/do-high-state-taxes-drive-away-millionaires-not-really/#3db9b20268f6" target="_blank">answer</a> is definitively “<a href="http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0003122416639625" target="_blank">no</a>”.</p> <p><a href="http://www.cbpp.org/research/state-budget-and-tax/state-taxes-have-a-negligible-impact-on-americans-interstate-moves" target="_blank">Study</a> after <a href="http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0003122416639625" target="_blank">study</a> after <a href="http://www.cbpp.org/research/tax-flight-is-a-myth?fa=view&amp;id=3556" target="_blank">study</a> has shown no significant pattern of wealthy people moving from high-tax to low-tax states, and no noticeable change in the net migration rates of high earners between US states in the wake of <a href="http://www.itepnet.org/pdf/md_5millionaires_0311.pdf" target="_blank">changes</a> in their relative tax rates. And there is no evidence that either hours worked or income earned by high earners overall is <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/11/07/The-unexpected-way-Obamas-tax-hike-affected-the-wealthiest-Americans/?utm_term=.15fa496effa6" target="_blank">reduced meaningfully</a> by <a href="http://equitablegrowth.org/working-papers/evidence-from-2013-tax-increase/" target="_blank">higher tax rates</a>.</p> <p>Republicans can always find <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/01/business/one-top-taxpayer-moved-and-new-jersey-shuddered.html" target="_blank">anecdotal evidence</a> that high taxes will drive or are driving the rich from high to low-tax states. But one rich person who moves from Manhattan to Miami proves nothing. All kinds of people, rich and poor, move from New York to Florida every year. And all kinds of people move from Florida to New York. The net effect is tiny, and made up for by people moving to New York from other states and <a href="http://origin-www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-12-22/new-census-tells-us-where-americans-are-moving" target="_blank">other countries</a>.</p> <p>New York’s millionaire’s tax first passed in 2009. As you can see <a href="http://nypost.com/2009/02/27/big-biz-gangs-up-on-millionaires-tax-plan/" target="_blank">here</a>, <a href="http://nypost.com/2009/05/16/billionaire-golisano-flees-ny-over-tax/" target="_blank">here</a>, <a href="http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2009/09/raising_taxes_on_the_rich_new.html" target="_blank">here</a> and <a href="https://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/27/will-a-millionaire-tax-cause-an-exodus-of-talent/" target="_blank">here</a>, the primary argument used against it was that rich people were going to move. And when the millionaire’s tax was renewed in 2011, the <a href="http://www.pfnyc.org/reports/2011-Personal-Income-Tax.pdf" target="_blank">same arguments</a> were made, including by <a href="https://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/18/the-millionaires-tax/" target="_blank">Governor Cuomo</a> himself.</p> <p>With the better part of a decade’s worth of data, were the “common sense” mongers of the Right actually correct? <a href="http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0003122416639625" target="_blank">No</a>, <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/beltway/2016/05/26/do-high-state-taxes-drive-away-millionaires-not-really/#3ebdaf0168f6" target="_blank">no</a> and <a href="http://www.cbpp.org/research/state-budget-and-tax/state-taxes-have-a-negligible-impact-on-americans-interstate-moves" target="_blank">no</a>. New York’s rich haven’t flown off to lower tax states. Property values at the upper end of the New York real estate market have risen unabated. All their warnings have come to naught.</p> <p>So Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Assemblymember Herman Farrell, armed with observable fact and measurable experience, <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2017/01/assembly-proposes-tax-hike-for-the-rich/" target="_blank">have introduced</a> the gazillionaire’s tax. It extends the logic of the millionaire’s tax with a series of four additional tax brackets starting at $5,000,000 and adding at most 1.5 percentage points of incremental tax on incomes over $100,000,000 per year. That’s not a typo, and yes there are multiple households in New York with annual incomes above $100,000,000, and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s isn’t the only one.</p> <p>The objections to the gazillionaire’s tax are no different than the objections to the millionaire’s tax, and they are just as certain to be completely wrong in the real world. Republican arguments against higher taxes are premised in deeply faulty views of both human nature and economics. The richest of the rich don’t wake up every morning and say, “Hmmm, I will work today if my tax rate is 47 percent, but I will go back to sleep or move to Florida if it’s 48.5 percent.” We are talking about people who could never spend all of the money they have already earned. They keep working as hard as they do for a variety of reasons, like relative success, prestige, and actual enjoyment in their work, with take-home pay being just one item on a long list.</p> <p>Arguments against the mansion tax are essentially the same but even weaker. They don’t even have “common sense” to fall back on. Where’s the common sense in stating that a 2.5 percent tax surcharge on proceeds in excess of $2 million will have any effect on home sales? Are people not going to move when it’s time to move because of it? Of course not. It’s just a wealth tax applied on a transactional basis.</p> <p>Massive, long-term, structural trends -- trends that many Trump voters are incidentally rebelling against -- have been and will continue to drive the relative success of America’s, and the world’s, largest and strongest cities. Clusters of like-minded people, of competitive college graduates from all over the country and the world, will continue to grow and prosper. “Trends” that major industries, like financial services, are going to move to low-tax states are perennially flogged by the Right. But they never actually happen.</p> <p>So the next time you hear someone say, “You can’t raise taxes on the rich in New York, they already pay too much and they’ll just move to Texas or Florida; it’s just common sense”, you should say, “Yes we can raise taxes on the richest New Yorkers, all of the data over many years and many studies has shown definitively that they aren’t going anywhere, so you can stick your common sense in a hot, humid, boring low-tax state with low-wage jobs.” Now that’s just common sense.</p> <p>***<br />Gus Christensen is a financial consultant to non-profits and start-ups, as well as a former investment banker and political candidate.</p> <p>

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/16848033782_69665ea263_z.jpg" alt="Speaker Carl Heastie" width="600" height="401" /></p> <p>&nbsp;Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (photo: The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Higher taxes on New York’s wealthy are on the table in <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/6746-8-new-york-city-takeaways-from-cuomo-s-budget-de-blasio-s-testimony" target="_blank">three places</a> for this year’s budget negotiations. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Budget for 2018 includes an extension of the so-called "<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/18/nyregion/new-york-budget-millionaire-tax.html" target="_blank">millionaire’s tax</a>”. The state Assembly has decided to see the governor and raise him with their proposed “<a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2017/01/assembly-proposes-tax-hike-for-the-rich/" target="_blank">gazillionaire’s tax</a>”, while Mayor de Blasio has proposed a “<a href="http://nypost.com/2017/01/30/de-blasio-makes-another-push-for-mansion-tax/" target="_blank">mansion tax</a>”.</p> <p>The Democratic-controlled Assembly favors them all. The Republicans, who control the state Senate, are against all three. But the governor exerts a great deal of control over the New York State <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/02/16/albany-chronicles" target="_blank">budget process</a> and holds most of the cards. And while the governor is the one proposing the extension of the millionaire’s tax, he <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/cuomo-raising-tax-wealthy-drive-n-y-article-1.2964919" target="_blank">doesn’t appear</a> to support the others. So is there any reason for progressives to believe that the mansion tax, let alone the gazillionaire’s tax, might pass now?</p> <p>For starters, taxes on the wealthy are <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/11/trump_and_the_gop_have_massively_unpopular_tax_policies.html" target="_blank">broadly popular</a> with voters. Just like raising the <a href="http://www.people-press.org/2014/01/23/most-see-inequality-growing-but-partisans-differ-over-solutions/1-23-2014_03/" target="_blank">minimum wage</a>, even <a href="http://www.people-press.org/2015/03/19/federal-tax-system-seen-in-need-of-overhaul/" target="_blank">Republican voters</a> tend to favor these types of taxes, as do the <a href="http://www.cnbc.com/2014/05/06/cnbc-survey-shows-millionaires-want-higher-taxes-to-fix-inequality.html" target="_blank">wealthy themselves</a> irrespective of party affiliation. A recent <a href="http://auburnpub.com/blogs/eye_on_ny/siena-poll-most-voters-support-cuomo-s-free-college-tuition/article_0de6e0a8-e6a4-11e6-948b-77a6f23db81e.html" target="_blank">Siena Poll</a> showed New Yorkers in favor of extending the millionaire’s tax by a margin of 74 percent to 23 percent, with <a href="https://www.siena.edu/assets/files/news/SNY0117_Crosstabs_1298.pdf" target="_blank">61 percent of Republicans</a> on board along with 81 percent of Democrats.</p> <p>On the other hand, Republicans are <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2017/02/republicans-eyeing-statewide-run-tout-fiscal-bonafides/" target="_blank">offering arguments</a> that have worked before. They say that New York is already over-taxed, and that taxes on the high earners will just drive them to leave the state and take their job-creating business with them. Corporate-backed “non-partisan” groups <a href="http://pfnyc.org/news_press/statement-from-kathryn-wylde-president-ceo-of-the-partnership-for-new-york-city-on-assembly-democrats-high-earners-tax-proposal/" target="_blank">take the same position</a>, as Governor Cuomo often does <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/cuomo-raising-tax-wealthy-drive-n-y-article-1.2964919" target="_blank">as well</a>.</p> <p>If Republicans can be said to believe in just one thing, it is that progressive tax policies will drive the rich away and impoverish all who remain, bereft of “job creators”. From Ayn Rand and Galt’s Gulch, to Ronald Reagan and the Laffer Curve, to <a href="https://www.alec.org/publication/rich-states-poor-states/" target="_blank">ALEC</a> and <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2017/01/31/cnn_hire_hack_trump_advisor_to_spout_gibberish_about_economics.html" target="_blank">Stephen Moore</a> today, the argument that higher taxes will make the rich work less or move to some promised land of lower taxes is one of the most consistent pieces of Republican philosophy. But are any of their arguments actually grounded in observable reality?&nbsp;</p> <p>Republicans rarely cite any empirical research to back their claims. Why should they when it’s just “common sense”? But does reality back up the “common sense” of the GOP? The <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/beltway/2016/05/26/do-high-state-taxes-drive-away-millionaires-not-really/#3db9b20268f6" target="_blank">answer</a> is definitively “<a href="http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0003122416639625" target="_blank">no</a>”.</p> <p><a href="http://www.cbpp.org/research/state-budget-and-tax/state-taxes-have-a-negligible-impact-on-americans-interstate-moves" target="_blank">Study</a> after <a href="http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0003122416639625" target="_blank">study</a> after <a href="http://www.cbpp.org/research/tax-flight-is-a-myth?fa=view&amp;id=3556" target="_blank">study</a> has shown no significant pattern of wealthy people moving from high-tax to low-tax states, and no noticeable change in the net migration rates of high earners between US states in the wake of <a href="http://www.itepnet.org/pdf/md_5millionaires_0311.pdf" target="_blank">changes</a> in their relative tax rates. And there is no evidence that either hours worked or income earned by high earners overall is <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/11/07/The-unexpected-way-Obamas-tax-hike-affected-the-wealthiest-Americans/?utm_term=.15fa496effa6" target="_blank">reduced meaningfully</a> by <a href="http://equitablegrowth.org/working-papers/evidence-from-2013-tax-increase/" target="_blank">higher tax rates</a>.</p> <p>Republicans can always find <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/01/business/one-top-taxpayer-moved-and-new-jersey-shuddered.html" target="_blank">anecdotal evidence</a> that high taxes will drive or are driving the rich from high to low-tax states. But one rich person who moves from Manhattan to Miami proves nothing. All kinds of people, rich and poor, move from New York to Florida every year. And all kinds of people move from Florida to New York. The net effect is tiny, and made up for by people moving to New York from other states and <a href="http://origin-www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-12-22/new-census-tells-us-where-americans-are-moving" target="_blank">other countries</a>.</p> <p>New York’s millionaire’s tax first passed in 2009. As you can see <a href="http://nypost.com/2009/02/27/big-biz-gangs-up-on-millionaires-tax-plan/" target="_blank">here</a>, <a href="http://nypost.com/2009/05/16/billionaire-golisano-flees-ny-over-tax/" target="_blank">here</a>, <a href="http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2009/09/raising_taxes_on_the_rich_new.html" target="_blank">here</a> and <a href="https://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/27/will-a-millionaire-tax-cause-an-exodus-of-talent/" target="_blank">here</a>, the primary argument used against it was that rich people were going to move. And when the millionaire’s tax was renewed in 2011, the <a href="http://www.pfnyc.org/reports/2011-Personal-Income-Tax.pdf" target="_blank">same arguments</a> were made, including by <a href="https://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/18/the-millionaires-tax/" target="_blank">Governor Cuomo</a> himself.</p> <p>With the better part of a decade’s worth of data, were the “common sense” mongers of the Right actually correct? <a href="http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0003122416639625" target="_blank">No</a>, <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/beltway/2016/05/26/do-high-state-taxes-drive-away-millionaires-not-really/#3ebdaf0168f6" target="_blank">no</a> and <a href="http://www.cbpp.org/research/state-budget-and-tax/state-taxes-have-a-negligible-impact-on-americans-interstate-moves" target="_blank">no</a>. New York’s rich haven’t flown off to lower tax states. Property values at the upper end of the New York real estate market have risen unabated. All their warnings have come to naught.</p> <p>So Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Assemblymember Herman Farrell, armed with observable fact and measurable experience, <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2017/01/assembly-proposes-tax-hike-for-the-rich/" target="_blank">have introduced</a> the gazillionaire’s tax. It extends the logic of the millionaire’s tax with a series of four additional tax brackets starting at $5,000,000 and adding at most 1.5 percentage points of incremental tax on incomes over $100,000,000 per year. That’s not a typo, and yes there are multiple households in New York with annual incomes above $100,000,000, and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s isn’t the only one.</p> <p>The objections to the gazillionaire’s tax are no different than the objections to the millionaire’s tax, and they are just as certain to be completely wrong in the real world. Republican arguments against higher taxes are premised in deeply faulty views of both human nature and economics. The richest of the rich don’t wake up every morning and say, “Hmmm, I will work today if my tax rate is 47 percent, but I will go back to sleep or move to Florida if it’s 48.5 percent.” We are talking about people who could never spend all of the money they have already earned. They keep working as hard as they do for a variety of reasons, like relative success, prestige, and actual enjoyment in their work, with take-home pay being just one item on a long list.</p> <p>Arguments against the mansion tax are essentially the same but even weaker. They don’t even have “common sense” to fall back on. Where’s the common sense in stating that a 2.5 percent tax surcharge on proceeds in excess of $2 million will have any effect on home sales? Are people not going to move when it’s time to move because of it? Of course not. It’s just a wealth tax applied on a transactional basis.</p> <p>Massive, long-term, structural trends -- trends that many Trump voters are incidentally rebelling against -- have been and will continue to drive the relative success of America’s, and the world’s, largest and strongest cities. Clusters of like-minded people, of competitive college graduates from all over the country and the world, will continue to grow and prosper. “Trends” that major industries, like financial services, are going to move to low-tax states are perennially flogged by the Right. But they never actually happen.</p> <p>So the next time you hear someone say, “You can’t raise taxes on the rich in New York, they already pay too much and they’ll just move to Texas or Florida; it’s just common sense”, you should say, “Yes we can raise taxes on the richest New Yorkers, all of the data over many years and many studies has shown definitively that they aren’t going anywhere, so you can stick your common sense in a hot, humid, boring low-tax state with low-wage jobs.” Now that’s just common sense.</p> <p>***<br />Gus Christensen is a financial consultant to non-profits and start-ups, as well as a former investment banker and political candidate.</p> <p>

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Heastie Takes to Twitter to Respond to Cuomo on Tax Plan 2016-02-09T21:43:46+00:00 2016-02-09T21:43:46+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6158:heastie-takes-to-twitter-to-respond-to-cuomo-on-tax-plan kfan <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/16661826220_ab418ac175_z.jpg" alt="cuomo heastie standing photo" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p>Cuomo and Heastie (photo: The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie's Twitter account lit up Tuesday with <a href="https://twitter.com/CarlHeastie/status/697117783272919040" target="_blank">a stream</a> of "fun facts" about income inequality and his proposed millionaire's tax just a day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo dismissed the plan.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Fun Fact: New Yorkers earning more than $10 Million pay only 16.2% of NY’s taxes <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MillionairesTax?src=hash">#MillionairesTax</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NYInequality?src=hash">#NYInequality</a></p> — Carl E. Heastie (@CarlHeastie) <a href="https://twitter.com/CarlHeastie/status/697113879990681601">February 9, 2016</a></blockquote> <p>"I don't believe there's any reason or appetite to take up taxes this year," Cuomo told reporters on Monday, responding to questions about the taxation agenda put forth by the Democratic Assembly majority on Feb. 2, which calls for increasing taxes on the state's highest earners.</p> <p>Heastie's tweet storm appeared to be a rebuke to Cuomo, though it did not mention the governor by name.</p> <p>A few hours after Heastie's tweets stopped, the Working Families Party issued its own retort. "We need our tax system to put working families first, not hedge funds and wealthy campaign donors. That's what both Democratic presidential candidates have been calling for, and it's what New Yorkers expect from our elected officials in Albany too," said WFP New York State Director Bill Lipton in a statement.</p> <p>Heastie surprised some when he proposed expanding and extending the state's millionaire's tax that isn't set to expire until 2017. Assembly Democrats' plan would create a number of higher tax brackets with those who earn from $1 million to $5 million a year paying the state's current highest rate of 8.82 percent. Those earning from $5 to $10 million annually would pay 9.32 percent and those making over $10 million would pay 9.82 percent.</p> <p>The increase for millionaires would be paired with a middle-class tax cut. And according to Heastie the income generated by new tax brackets would add funding to education, infrastructure repair, and "other priorities."</p> <p>Many see Heastie's plan as a way to strengthen his position as leader, cater to major interest groups that back his conference, and give him a popular proposal to use during budget negotiations.</p> <p>Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan has said that higher taxes would drive millionaires out of the state. "We don't support raising taxes," replied Scott Reif, spokesperson for the Senate Republican Conference when asked for a comment on Heastie's tweets.</p> <p>A spokesperon for Gov. Cuomo, Rich Azzopardi, said by email that&nbsp;"What the public is hungry for, post Shelly Silver, is ethics reform -- specifically the pension forfeiture bill that was agreed to last year and promptly reneged on by the assembly. We hope they will join us this year and pass this and the other important reforms the Governor outlined."</p> <p>Heastie's office did not reply to inquiries about whether Heastie was the author of the tweets. As the day progressed, Heastie's spokesperon, Mike Whyland, also took to Twitter on the subject, and more directly <a href="https://twitter.com/mwhyland/status/697217790827237376" target="_blank">criticized the governor</a>.</p> <p>The speaker's earlier messages had a distinctly populist tone:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">NYers are hungry for a system that puts the working poor and middle class ahead of millionaires <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NYInequality?src=hash">#NYInequality</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/IncomeInequality?src=hash">#IncomeInequality</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FairShare?src=hash">#FairShare</a></p> — Carl E. Heastie (@CarlHeastie) <a href="https://twitter.com/CarlHeastie/status/697116858835668992">February 9, 2016</a></blockquote> <p>E.J. McMahon, director of the fiscally conservative Empire Center, quickly responded to Heastie on Twitter, questioning the data Heastie cited and combatting the notion he said Heastie was propagating that millionaires don't pay anything.</p> <p>"The whole premise that they are not paying their fair share is nonsense," McMahon told Gotham Gazette of millionaires and taxes. "There is no standard in existence under which they don't pay a major share of their income. Eighty percent of filers in New York pay 15 percent of the taxes collected."</p> <p>"The premise of these tweets is unsupported by facts," McMahon continued. "They aren't tweeting 'Hey, we need money and here is the best way to get it.' The whole point of these tweets seems to be to make someone who doesn't know better think millionaires aren't paying anything and that just isn't true."</p> <p>McMahon said that he felt Heastie's tax proposal was motivated by the education lobby that wants to see an increase in education spending. Cuomo's budget factors in a 4 percent increase in education spending but advocates and unions have demanded no less than eight percent.</p> <p>"You can see the people who support this and are retweeting Heastie are the people tied to the education lobby who think taxes can never be high enough," said McMahon.</p> <p>Michael Kink, director of Strong Economy for All, a labor-backed progressive group falling into the category mentioned by McMahon, praised Heastie's proposal and said that it is about funding schools as well as having enough funding for other major proposals and needs.</p> <p>Kink and his allies appear ready to hammer Gov. Cuomo on recent infrastructure problems such as a water main break in Troy that shut off water to at least two towns and the environmental disaster in Hoosick where it was found that toxic chemicals had poisoned the public water supply. Cuomo has recently tried to <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2016/02/8590505/cuomo-downplays-slow-state-action-hoosick-falls?top-featured-image" target="_blank">downplay</a> the Hoosick issue.</p> <p>"Assembly members have sat in day-long hearings about the budget and heard parents and students testify they need school funding, heard businesses say they support the $15 minimum wage but need some help so it doesn't overburden them; they know about the water line explosion in Troy and not too far away they've seen families drinking poisoned water coming out of a source that should have been overseen by an agency that is suffering under the governor's austerity budget," Kink told Gotham Gazette. "If the state wants to meet these significant needs it is entirely responsible to have a strong funding mechanism."</p> <p>Kink said that the tenor of the presidential race shows that the electorate is in a populist mood. "I think these will be an interesting set of budget negotiations because the Assembly is more in tune with the populist mood than Flanagan or the austerity version of Governor Cuomo," Kink said.</p> <p>The idea that there are 'two versions' of Cuomo have supporters of the tax plan ready to campaign hard for it as they've seen Cuomo flip on proposals after gauging voter sentiment. It was only last year that Cuomo said a $13 minimum wage was a non-starter and there was "no appetite" for paid family leave. Now the Governor has made a $15 minimum wage and paid family leave top priorities, expressing strong personal connections to both issues.</p> <p>McMahon notes that Cuomo actually changed his position on the millionaire's tax in 2011. "He pivoted in 2011 on this issue. So nothing he says is frankly dispositive that this tax will be part of the budget," said McMahon. "The fact [the governor] does things like this encourages them to keep pushing."</p> <p>Karen Scharff of Citizen Action NY, a grassroots progressive group that supports Heastie's plan, said she certainly won't be writing off the plan until the budget is actually decided on, since negotiations tend to lead to surprising results, no matter what any stakeholder has said. "This is the right time for this plan because one, the wealthiest New Yorkers are wealthier than ever, and, at the same time, the state has desperate needs that have to be funded. Every year things in the budget are up in the air until negotiations are over. And they aren't over."</p> <p>

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by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note: this story has been updated with comment from the governor's spokesperson and news of social media response from Heastie's spokesperson.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/16661826220_ab418ac175_z.jpg" alt="cuomo heastie standing photo" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p>Cuomo and Heastie (photo: The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie's Twitter account lit up Tuesday with <a href="https://twitter.com/CarlHeastie/status/697117783272919040" target="_blank">a stream</a> of "fun facts" about income inequality and his proposed millionaire's tax just a day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo dismissed the plan.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Fun Fact: New Yorkers earning more than $10 Million pay only 16.2% of NY’s taxes <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MillionairesTax?src=hash">#MillionairesTax</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NYInequality?src=hash">#NYInequality</a></p> — Carl E. Heastie (@CarlHeastie) <a href="https://twitter.com/CarlHeastie/status/697113879990681601">February 9, 2016</a></blockquote> <p>"I don't believe there's any reason or appetite to take up taxes this year," Cuomo told reporters on Monday, responding to questions about the taxation agenda put forth by the Democratic Assembly majority on Feb. 2, which calls for increasing taxes on the state's highest earners.</p> <p>Heastie's tweet storm appeared to be a rebuke to Cuomo, though it did not mention the governor by name.</p> <p>A few hours after Heastie's tweets stopped, the Working Families Party issued its own retort. "We need our tax system to put working families first, not hedge funds and wealthy campaign donors. That's what both Democratic presidential candidates have been calling for, and it's what New Yorkers expect from our elected officials in Albany too," said WFP New York State Director Bill Lipton in a statement.</p> <p>Heastie surprised some when he proposed expanding and extending the state's millionaire's tax that isn't set to expire until 2017. Assembly Democrats' plan would create a number of higher tax brackets with those who earn from $1 million to $5 million a year paying the state's current highest rate of 8.82 percent. Those earning from $5 to $10 million annually would pay 9.32 percent and those making over $10 million would pay 9.82 percent.</p> <p>The increase for millionaires would be paired with a middle-class tax cut. And according to Heastie the income generated by new tax brackets would add funding to education, infrastructure repair, and "other priorities."</p> <p>Many see Heastie's plan as a way to strengthen his position as leader, cater to major interest groups that back his conference, and give him a popular proposal to use during budget negotiations.</p> <p>Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan has said that higher taxes would drive millionaires out of the state. "We don't support raising taxes," replied Scott Reif, spokesperson for the Senate Republican Conference when asked for a comment on Heastie's tweets.</p> <p>A spokesperon for Gov. Cuomo, Rich Azzopardi, said by email that&nbsp;"What the public is hungry for, post Shelly Silver, is ethics reform -- specifically the pension forfeiture bill that was agreed to last year and promptly reneged on by the assembly. We hope they will join us this year and pass this and the other important reforms the Governor outlined."</p> <p>Heastie's office did not reply to inquiries about whether Heastie was the author of the tweets. As the day progressed, Heastie's spokesperon, Mike Whyland, also took to Twitter on the subject, and more directly <a href="https://twitter.com/mwhyland/status/697217790827237376" target="_blank">criticized the governor</a>.</p> <p>The speaker's earlier messages had a distinctly populist tone:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">NYers are hungry for a system that puts the working poor and middle class ahead of millionaires <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NYInequality?src=hash">#NYInequality</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/IncomeInequality?src=hash">#IncomeInequality</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FairShare?src=hash">#FairShare</a></p> — Carl E. Heastie (@CarlHeastie) <a href="https://twitter.com/CarlHeastie/status/697116858835668992">February 9, 2016</a></blockquote> <p>E.J. McMahon, director of the fiscally conservative Empire Center, quickly responded to Heastie on Twitter, questioning the data Heastie cited and combatting the notion he said Heastie was propagating that millionaires don't pay anything.</p> <p>"The whole premise that they are not paying their fair share is nonsense," McMahon told Gotham Gazette of millionaires and taxes. "There is no standard in existence under which they don't pay a major share of their income. Eighty percent of filers in New York pay 15 percent of the taxes collected."</p> <p>"The premise of these tweets is unsupported by facts," McMahon continued. "They aren't tweeting 'Hey, we need money and here is the best way to get it.' The whole point of these tweets seems to be to make someone who doesn't know better think millionaires aren't paying anything and that just isn't true."</p> <p>McMahon said that he felt Heastie's tax proposal was motivated by the education lobby that wants to see an increase in education spending. Cuomo's budget factors in a 4 percent increase in education spending but advocates and unions have demanded no less than eight percent.</p> <p>"You can see the people who support this and are retweeting Heastie are the people tied to the education lobby who think taxes can never be high enough," said McMahon.</p> <p>Michael Kink, director of Strong Economy for All, a labor-backed progressive group falling into the category mentioned by McMahon, praised Heastie's proposal and said that it is about funding schools as well as having enough funding for other major proposals and needs.</p> <p>Kink and his allies appear ready to hammer Gov. Cuomo on recent infrastructure problems such as a water main break in Troy that shut off water to at least two towns and the environmental disaster in Hoosick where it was found that toxic chemicals had poisoned the public water supply. Cuomo has recently tried to <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2016/02/8590505/cuomo-downplays-slow-state-action-hoosick-falls?top-featured-image" target="_blank">downplay</a> the Hoosick issue.</p> <p>"Assembly members have sat in day-long hearings about the budget and heard parents and students testify they need school funding, heard businesses say they support the $15 minimum wage but need some help so it doesn't overburden them; they know about the water line explosion in Troy and not too far away they've seen families drinking poisoned water coming out of a source that should have been overseen by an agency that is suffering under the governor's austerity budget," Kink told Gotham Gazette. "If the state wants to meet these significant needs it is entirely responsible to have a strong funding mechanism."</p> <p>Kink said that the tenor of the presidential race shows that the electorate is in a populist mood. "I think these will be an interesting set of budget negotiations because the Assembly is more in tune with the populist mood than Flanagan or the austerity version of Governor Cuomo," Kink said.</p> <p>The idea that there are 'two versions' of Cuomo have supporters of the tax plan ready to campaign hard for it as they've seen Cuomo flip on proposals after gauging voter sentiment. It was only last year that Cuomo said a $13 minimum wage was a non-starter and there was "no appetite" for paid family leave. Now the Governor has made a $15 minimum wage and paid family leave top priorities, expressing strong personal connections to both issues.</p> <p>McMahon notes that Cuomo actually changed his position on the millionaire's tax in 2011. "He pivoted in 2011 on this issue. So nothing he says is frankly dispositive that this tax will be part of the budget," said McMahon. "The fact [the governor] does things like this encourages them to keep pushing."</p> <p>Karen Scharff of Citizen Action NY, a grassroots progressive group that supports Heastie's plan, said she certainly won't be writing off the plan until the budget is actually decided on, since negotiations tend to lead to surprising results, no matter what any stakeholder has said. "This is the right time for this plan because one, the wealthiest New Yorkers are wealthier than ever, and, at the same time, the state has desperate needs that have to be funded. Every year things in the budget are up in the air until negotiations are over. And they aren't over."</p> <p>

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note: this story has been updated with comment from the governor's spokesperson and news of social media response from Heastie's spokesperson.</p>