Over 100 lawmakers pledge to tax ultra-wealthy in effort to close NYS budget shortcomings

Is New York going to ‘tax the rich’ to dig itself out of a looming budget hole?

While New Yorkers are worried about increased taxes, there’s growing consensus that those who will feel tax increases the most are the ultra-wealthy.

One hundred New York State Senate and Assembly members released a signed pledge to refuse to allow state budget cuts without raising revenue through new taxes on the ultrawealthy.

In their statement of principles, cosigned by labor unions, economic justice advocacy organizations, the legislators called for a balanced state tax policy where everyone pays their fair share and pledged support for a post-pandemic economic recovery plan centered on the best engine for recovery – individual New Yorkers and their communities.

“Working people, poor people and people of color have been hardest hit by the pandemic. They are getting sick and dying in disproportionate numbers and layoffs have fallen most heavily on lower-wage and precarious workers,” the group said in a unified statement.

The legislators called for tax reform because New Yorkers who have already been most affected by COVID-19, especially low-income communities and communities of color, should not be hit again with state cuts to needed public services.

“There is no substitute for federal assistance, but while we wait for fundamental federal action, our state government must do all it can. Protecting essential services is required as the state cannot function without the organizations and people that work to keep everyone healthy, educate our kids, keep our streets, buildings, and public spaces clean and livable. The state can’t replace all the revenue lost from this public health emergency and raising revenue at the state level is not a substitute for federal assistance. Still, legislators refused to let the most vulnerable New Yorkers bear the highest burden,” the group continued.

“The wealth of billionaires and ultra-millionaires has been largely protected — and in many instances has grown significantly,” the statement continued. The group does not want to see the poorest or even middle class New Yorkers bear the burden of New York’s bleak financial outlook.

“New York needs a post-pandemic economic recovery plan built on the fact that the people power our state. While we wait for necessary federal aid, we must do everything we can to forestall drastic budget cuts. New York cannot recover from the pandemic if our first response is to choke off revenue to hospitals, schools, small businesses, and fire teachers, nurses, aides – all the indispensable people and services that make our communities great,” Ron Deutsch, Executive Director, Fiscal Policy Institute said. “For the last ten years, our state has cut public services to the bone, which did not help prepare us for a pandemic. Clinging to an austerity budget model will only make hard times harder.”