3:56 pm, 12/09/2011
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You would think that a bill that passed the New York State Senate 55-0 and had only eight (of 140) dissenting votes in the State Assembly must be all good. Especially if it can draw such a broad array of praise, from Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, to 1% advocates the Partnership for New York City, to Working Families Party director Dan Cantor.
It seems there are only a few crazies out there that aren’t happy about Governor Cuomo’s new tax policy changes. From the right, there’s The New York Post‘s Frederic Uberall Dicker and New York State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long. On the left, there’s that radical band of anarchos at The New York Times’ editorial board.
In an editorial yesterday, the Times faulted the new legislation for it’s faultiest faults. The bill was entirely written behind closed doors, and Senators, for example, had only 30 minutes to review the 33 page document before voting on it. This is nothing new for Albany, but it’s a process Cuomo claimed he’d end.
The bill does maintain higher rates for millionaires, specifically those making more than $2 million dollars a year. For the rest, there are modest tax savings, for most poor and middle class New Yorkers, a 0.2-0.4% cut. As the Times notes:
Mr. Cuomo’s main pitch is that this new tax structure benefits the middle class. But most New Yorkers will see only very modest tax cuts. The biggest break goes to those with taxable income from about $300,000 to $2 million a year — their taxes will drop to 6.85 percent from as much as 8.97 percent. (That really stretches the concept of “middle class.” )
Not included in this particular critique is the $300 million a year cut in funding for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority added to sweeten the deal for Republicans and New York City suburban lawmakers. That particular cut means that New York City subway and bus riders may likely see toll increases to fund those cuts made for $300,000 to $2 million earners.
The bill will raise an additional $1.9 billion a year, more than would have been raised if the state did nothing, but considerably less than the $5 billion expected if Albany had voted to continue the current Millionaires’ Tax. With the state projecting a $3.5 billion budget deficit for next year, that’s much needed money. The alternative is more cuts to state services and public and private sector layoffs.
Granted, this is a reversal from Cuomo and Skelos, who had vowed repeatedly not to continue current tax rates on the wealthy. The small middle class cuts and tiny percent change in the top bracket give them some political and semantic cover, though, and in the end most voters will likely only remember that Cuomo cut their taxes and raised them on the rich.
Aside from politicians, there are several other winners, most notably those hit by flood damage from Tropical Storms Irene and Lee. #Occupy Wall Street has been getting a bit of credit as well, though it’s worth noting that the far larger, more progressive Millionaires’ Tax surcharges currently expiring were passed in 2009, some 30 months before the birth of #OWS.
At the end of the day, it’s a bill nobody can be too happy about, which is probably why nobody seems too upset about it either, with a notable exception or two. It’s certainly not the best the state and can do, and likely will be subject to further revision in the months and years to come.
TL;DR: Cuomo and co. raised taxes on really rich ppl, cut them a lot for pretty rich ppl, and cut them a lil for everyone else. It wasn’t done in a very transparent manner and if you live in NYC you’re gonna pay more for the subway.