Occupy Albany protesters are gathering in the state capitol to call for an extension to the so-called millionaire's tax. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver also supports re-upping the tax, but stopped short of embracing the protesters.
"I don't consider them political allies," Speaker Silver said at a press conference at his Manhattan office on Thursday. "I think they make a point. Clearly they highlight a point of frustration among Americans."
Silver repeated his complaints about the concentration of protesters in Zuccotti Park, which sits in his lower Manhattan district. He said it's up to the mayor to decide how long they should be able to stay, but said the impact on residents and businesses need to be addressed.
“They should take this protest to Washington and seats of power around th country and bring their message out, without interrupting commerce downtown specifically, which is a tremendous generator of the income of the state of NY that's able to pay for the things that we want paid for.”
The additional tax surcharge on taxpayers earning more than $200-thousand a year is set to expire at the end of the year. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has consistently opposed extending the tax, even comparing this stand to his father's opposition to the death penalty in New York. but Speaker Silver said that in the coming months, he and others will continue to press for the additional revenue. If necessary, he said, legislation could be passed retroactively to collect the tax back to January 1, 2012.
New York voters support extending the millionaire's tax by a two-to-one margin, according to a Quinnipiac poll. In the same survey, 58 percent said they agree with the views of Occupy Wall Street protests.
For their part, Occupy Albany organizer Colin Donnaruma said he didn't expect any legislators to attend their millionaire's tax protest today, as it was organized as "a peoples speak-out."