Thursday, October 27, 2011
Protesters in the state capital have moved into the capitol building as part of a planned protest in support of a continuation of a tax on higher-income earners. Governor Andrew Cuomo opposes the tax.
Thanks to Karen DeWitt, New York Public Radio Capital Bureau Chief, for the video:
Around 75 protesters from the Occupy Albany encampment entered the Capitol through the metal detectors, and climbed the stairs to the second floor, where they gathered in a reception area outside Governor Cuomo's office, chanting, "We are the 99 percent, he is governor 1 percent."
Several spoke, and expressed concerns ranging from student debt, to boarded up homes in their neighborhoods, to their own unemployment.
Security was beefed up outside the governor's office, with around a dozen extra uniformed and plain clothed state police.
Governor Cuomo is in New York City.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Nearly 60 percent of respondents in a Quinnipiac University poll out this morning say they agree with the protesters in Zuccotti Park, with an equal amount saying they understand what the protesters' views.
“Most New Yorkers, even upstaters and suburban voters, say they get the Wall Street protesters’ message,” Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in a statement. “And by two-to-one, voters agree with the complaints about bankers and Wall Streeters."
Voters continue to support a tax on higher-income earners as well, according to the poll. Two-thirds of those polled want to see the tax continue, with 57 percent of Republicans polled supporting the plan. Governor Andrew Cuomo has said he doesn't support the tax and wants it to end at the beginning of next year.
Part of the Governor's arguments--that it will drive wealth out of New York--appears to be rebutted some in the poll. Those earning $100,000 a year or more support extending the tax by 66 percent.
“There’s wide approval for the one specific message that’s being heard Downtown – support for a continued state ‘Millionaire’s Tax,’” Carroll added.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
A united front of minority politicians and their labor allies held a press conference today to call on Governor Andrew Cuomo to keep the “millionaires’ tax” on higher-income earners in place at the end of this year.
“New Yorkers deserve a budget plan of shared sacrifice,” said Assemblyman Karim Camara, who chairs the bicameral Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus. He said the current tax rate would generate $5 billion in revenues that could be used to offset cuts that disproportionally affect the working class and minority communities.
The Governor has said he wants the taxes to expire at the end of the year. Until recently any discussion of tax increases appeared off the table. But that was before the Occupy Wall Street protest.
Support for keeping taxes on higher-income earners wasn’t just among the protesters on Wall Street, said Councilman Robert Jackson, or among the 72 percent of voters who favor the tax. The co-chair of the city council’s minority caucus said the Governor need only visit his district in Harlem.
“If you don’t believe us, walk through our community and ask the people. They will tell you what is necessary,” he said.
The show of solidarity from African American, Latino and Asian elected officials opened up a new front against the Governor’s support for nixing taxes for the state’s most wealthy—and it could be a bigger one than he’d care to acknowledge.
Call it Andrew Cuomo’s color blind problem. In discussions after the event, the strategy was made clear: If the Governor remains blind to the calls of communities of color—through their elected representatives—he could have a problem that goes beyond a single issue like the millionaires’ tax.
The Governor has enjoyed a close relationship with minority communities over the years. But elected officials from those communities—upset over years now of cuts to social programs at every level, unshakable high unemployment, and attacks on unions that employee many from their neighborhoods—appear less willing to just go along with a governor they see more concerned with protecting his future interests (i.e. 2014 gubernatorial, 2016 presidential) than those of their constituents.
At least, that’s what today’s organizers are hoping Cuomo hears. So far the Governor remains popular across all groups, and community leaders haven’t taken as hard a stance as the elected officials. But if the Governor sticks to his position on the millionaires’ tax, that could all change.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Before it even began, Occupy Albany was imbued with its first agenda item. Press reports last Friday talked about the “millionaires’ tax” as an issue for Occupiers before they'd even shown up. The tax is a big one for left-leaning groups and organized labor who have been pushing for its continuation of on higher-income earners.
Over the weekend there was more friction between the Governor’s office and the mayor of Albany than between protesters and police. The Governor’s push of Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings to evict the curfew-breaking protesters was an indication to some observers that the protests were getting to the governor.
“The coverage of his push to get Occupy Albany shut down shows how close to home that’s hitting,” said one observer close to the issue. “There’s clearly a concern on their part, internally, that it’s going to escalate in a way that makes it difficult for him.”
Are the Occupations, which have now spread throughout the state, enough to get the Governor to change his mind on the continuation of taxes on higher-income earners? People in support of the move certainly hope so.