Archive for December, 2011

Cuomo's Op-Ed on Tax Reform
December 5th, 2011

The following op-ed piece has been sent to newspapers across New York State.
New York needs to enact a bold, innovative economic plan and tax code reform to create jobs at this difficult time. To achieve that we will need bipartisan political cooperation and a plan the people of the State support.
I believe economic development, popular support, and political consensus must all be built on the same foundation: fundamental fairness.
Last year, when we were preparing the state budget, I exposed that the system was inherently biased against the taxpayer. The very definition of the State’s budget deficit included statutory annual increases for individualized programs marbleized through the State’s budget laws. In short, “deficit” meant the amount necessary to fund a 13 percent increase. The taxpayer didn’t have a chance.
Our current tax system is also unfair.
I have posed the following question to Albany veterans, befuddling almost all: at what income level does the State’s top personal income tax rate become effective? Answers range from about $100,000 to $1 million. Virtually no one guesses the correct answer: only $20,000 for an individual taxpayer; and only $40,000 for a two-earner family. So, in New York under the permanent tax code, an individual making a taxable income of only $20,000 pays the same marginal tax rate as an individual making $20 million. It’s just not fair. While New York’s earned income tax credit, child care credit, and high standard deduction help working poor families, New York has left the middle class with an undue burden which also hinders our economic recovery.
From a competitive point of view, New York’s tax system is behind. Other states and the federal government have an income tax code that is fairer than New York’s. Unlike New York, 22 states apply their highest rate to incomes higher than our $40,000 level. Also, unlike New York, where the range between its lowest rate (4%) and its highest rate (6.85%) is only 2.85%, 28 other states have larger ranges that reflect a fairer distribution of the tax burden. Even the federal system has more progressivity: a range of tax brackets that spans from 10% to 35%, and the top not kicking in until taxable income exceeds $379,000.
New York is the progressive capital of the nation yet there have been no real tax reform efforts in the state in decades, only periodic gimmicks. From 2003 to 2005, we added two new temporary surcharge brackets. In 2009 we enacted the “millionaire’s tax,” which expires at the end of this year. The millionaire’s tax purported to shift the tax burden to the super wealthy to alleviate the burden on the middle class. But it failed on both counts. It actually raised taxes on people who were making $200,000 – hardly “millionaires.” And it did absolutely nothing to lower the disproportionately high tax burden on middle class families, who continue to pay the same marginal rate whether they make $40,000 or $299,000 in taxable income.
We must reform our tax system to stimulate the economy and restore fundamental fairness.
First, we need to reform the code in a way that creates jobs and grows our economy. To do that, we need to put more money in New Yorkers pockets and inject it back in to the economy. There are also tax credits that can incentivize private sector job growth.
Second, true reform for fairness has two factors: income brackets that fairly group income levels and progressive rates increasing with income. Simply put, to me “fairness” dictates that the more you make the more you pay and the higher your income the higher your rate. Also, you should be treated the same as people with similar incomes and differently from people who make significantly more, or significantly less, than you earn. I would create multiple brackets and rates increasing on a graduated basis throughout and indexed to inflation. I would add more income brackets for the middle income and add high end brackets. The actual rate span should be several points from low to high.
Our State Legislature will need to act, swiftly and effectively.
I believe we can avoid partisan gridlock and make government work by forging a plan that is based on fundamental fairness rather than political ideology.
During these difficult times, New Yorkers will step up and do their part to create jobs and revive our economy – but the system must be fair for all. Our State deserves nothing less.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Here is the op-ed Gov. Andrew Cuomo released about his new tax plan. Albany has been crawling with busy staffers who are negotiating a possible deal that would result in a special session, possibly later this week. The Assembly Majority plans to return on Tuesday to conference and the Senate Majority plans to return on Wednesday. Cuomo will need the support of some Senate Republicans to get a tax plan through that would increase taxes on the rich. Right now specifics on the deal are pretty slim.

Read the rest of this entry »

By on December 5, 2011, 3:50 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany | 3 Comments »

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Occupy Broadway To Entertain and Protest
December 1st, 2011

Time for a new street! Occupy Broadway, a 24-hour performance at the red steps in Times Square, will start at 6 p.m. tomorrow and last 24 hours.

Organizers say, that “New York artists will introduce tourists and New Yorkers going to Broadway shows or shopping themselves into debt to the idea of occupation as CREATIVE resistance with non-stop free performances.”A bonus performance location will be announced by organizers tomorrow on

Over 70 acts will participate in the performances including: The Working Groups of OWS, Mike Daisey, The Civilians, HERE Arts Center, Jenny Romaine and Great Small Works, The Foundry Theatre, The Church of Stop Shopping, Rude Mechanical Orchestra, NY Labor Chorus, The Yes Men, Ayo Jackson, April Yvette Thompson, The Living Theater, Bread and Puppet Theater, Tony Torn, Carlo Alban, Urban Research Theatre, Yolanda Kay, The Big Bank- A Musical, Rocha Dance Theater, Reno and Penny Arcade.

By on December 1, 2011, 4:17 pm
In category: Economy | 2 Comments »

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Rivera Credits OWS For New Thinking on Taxes
December 1st, 2011

“I believe Occupy Wall Street changed the national dialogue,” said Sen. Gustavo Rivera. “The conversations we were having 6 months ago got no traction. But things have changed because of what the folks at Zuccotti Park Started.”

The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is considering altering the tax code so that the wealthy would pay more and the poor would pay less. He was grilled on the subject by NY Post editor Fred Dicker and Cuomo refused to rule out the possibility of a tax hike for the wealthy.

“Ive always believed we need a more progressive tax system,” said Rivera. “I’m glad to hear the Cuomo administration seems to be open to it. We have the greatest economic disparity in New York. The economic gap is as bad as it was was in the depression.”

*Update* Rivera’s spokesperson says Rivera was speaking about OWS’ impact on the national dialogue and not specifically about Cuomo’s new thinking on the tax code. However, his response was to a question specifically about Cuomo’s new thinking.

By on December 1, 2011, 12:44 pm
In category: Albany,Economy,Eye on Albany,Governing | 2 Comments »

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