Silver: Chances of Keeping Millionaires Tax Are 'Poor'

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, speaking a month before the state budget is due, said the likelihood of retaining the so-called millionaires tax in New York was "poor" as support  for the temporary income surcharge appeared to wane.

Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Republican leader of the State Senate have repeatedly said they do not favor extending the millionaires tax — a temporary income tax surcharge on New Yorkers earning more than $200,000 a year — as a means of alleviating some of the $10 billion in budget cuts that the governor is proposing.

In the Assembly, where Democrats are in the majority, some members had expressed interest in continuing the tax, which is set to expire at the end of the year. But now, with just one month before the budget deadline, Silver said that although there is support in his Democratic conference for the tax on the rich, he does not think he can overcome opposition from the governor and the Senate.

"I think the likelihood of it actually being put into law, I recognize, is pretty poor," Silver said.

The speaker spent two hours in a closed door meeting with Cuomo on Monday. When asked about the topics discussed, he answered in generalities, saying they talked about a "host of substantive issues." But Silver did say he has some concerns about the governor's spending plan and it’'s impact on mental health and human needs. 

When asked if there were any other possible taxes or fees being discussed, besides the millionaire’s tax, he said "not really."

The speaker did point out that assessments on hospitals and other heath care providers recommended by the governor's Medicaid redesign panel could be viewed as a tax.

Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari, a supporter of extending the income tax surcharge on the wealthy, agreed that realistically it may not happen, and said it's becoming increasingly likely that Governor Cuomo’s budget may be adopted by the legislature largely intact.

"The governor's budget, I believe at this point in time, will be pretty much approved as is," Canestrari said.

A coalition of groups affiliated with the teachers union and other advocates for school funding say despite the speaker's seeming attempt to throw cold water on the tax extension, they aren’t giving up. Ron Deutsch, with New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, said a rally is planned at the Capitol on Tuesday in favor of taxing the rich. He said public opinion polls favor it.

"The public is very much behind continuing these surcharges," Deutsch said. "When so many of us are being asked to sacrifice, the wealthy should indeed also help in the solution of our state’s budget problems."

And some Assembly members said they don't intend to throw in the towel yet either. Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton of Ithaca said her constituents told her during five town meetings she held during the President’s week break, that the "feedback was pretty clear."

"We ought to be taxing the multi-millionaires and billionaires of our state instead of cutting our kid’s schools and the hospitals and nursing homes," Lifton said.

Cuomo did not comment after the private meeting with Silver. But he did release a proposal to cap the pay of school superintendents as an additional avenue for saving money. The school superintendent's lobby group in Albany says a cap could undermine the capacity of schools to attract quality leaders.


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Comments [7]


A lot of talking and no action,this is why the rich get what they want,does anyone really think they will agree to raise their own taxes?We normal people who are the ones making the millionaires rich are doing too much complaining and nobody is doing anything but I will since everyone is stuck in this but arent willing to do anything about it.Complete right thing to do is a flat tax I have to pay 25% of my measly paycheck because they say I have to.But the millioniares pay less than 5% of thiers,why becuase thats how they want it.We are the majority here and we do nothing but complain thats the problem how can you expect the same millionaire govt to save you.Its a federal issue and Im going to take action on everyones behalf and we all have seen the proof of this civil violation and never noticed but you will trust me you will.Nothing gets done if you dont act so you cant complain if youre not willing to stand up and act.When you hear what everyone doesnt realize is right in front of you it will make you want to act.After all they violate our civil rites on TV in plain view Im the only one who noticed.

Mar. 08 2011 03:57 PM
s9arena from Westchester County

The budget short fall could be reduced by nearly 50%. This is a no brainer. We suffered for the way they gambled and rigged the Stock Market and Housing. Our taxes bailed them out, we've been unemployed, while they cried foul over saving GM. The multi-million dollar bonuses are flowing on Wall Street again and we regular folk( Leona Helmsley called us the "little people"). are supposed to take it in the teeth. When did Gov. Cuomo switch parties? There are other ways to do this. Sunsetting the surcharge is NOT one of them. Fight back. We have the Tea Party, maybe it's time to start the Guillotine Party.

Mar. 03 2011 12:55 AM

If you disagree with eliminating the Millionaires Tax, contact the Governor by email or phone and let his office know:

Mar. 02 2011 04:07 PM
Manny from Queens, NY

Saying things like "It's time for the rich to chip in like the rest of us" doesn't make any sense.
I am no millionaire, not even close. However I know several people whose incomes fall in the top 1% of all earners and I want to thank them and defend them. (and I wish I could earn like them one day)

I looked at tax data from the IRS and the top 5% of earners in 2008 paid 58.7% of all income tax. The top 1% paid 19.5% and the top 0.1% paid 18.47%.

That is the top 5% paid more than the other 95% put together. To be in the top 5% you needed to earn $159,619, top 1% = $380,354 and top 0.1% = $1.8mil

The numbers also say the top 5% have been paying more than the other 95% since 1996.

Even if we look at the average tax rate (% of adjusted gross income paid as tax) the top 5% of earners paid 20.7% of their income to the IRS. Individuals that were between the top 25% to 50% paid 9.29%

I don't have data yet but my experience has been that a large percentage of millionaires have business and those businesses have employees and those business pay taxes. So if you included corporate tax and payroll tax millionaires generate a lot of tax revenue.

We can keep taxing the rich more and more but they have more options than the rest of us and can take their money and jobs elsewhere.

Mar. 02 2011 02:12 PM

The Koch brothers & Sarah Palin walk into a donut shop and order a dozen donuts. The brothers immediately grab 11 of the donuts, telling Sarah to "watch out - or the union will take a piece of that!" Palin: "Not on my watch!" raises her rifle and shoots the worker behind the counter.

Mar. 02 2011 09:56 AM
kathleen webster from NYCity

Really? Instead of asking the very wealthiest to pay a fair share we should lay off police, firefighters and teachers? Cut staff in schools, nursing homes, firehouses and police stations in these already overtaxed jobs?

This issue has massive, unstinting and fierce public support. Let’s even go to 500K as the cut-off to avoid the divide and conquer.

Not so long ago we faced a financial "industry" inspired melt-down that resulted in the enormous loss of wealth for working people. Wealth that was transferred to the “fortunate” few. It was a deliberate and calculated theft of pensions and homes.

Americans are waking up to the reality of this system of legalized theft.

These politicians have to find their spine. We know these people know how to fight when they choose to.

Mar. 02 2011 09:55 AM

It's time for the rich to chip in like the rest of US.

They can afford it more than most. Also, they have shown the largest income gains over the past 30 years of GOP Command economic policies - aka Reaganomics/non-regulation/crony capitalism.

Mar. 02 2011 08:27 AM

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