Governor Cuomo's proposed $132.9 budget would cut spending 2.7%, slashing $1.5 billion in education aid and $2.8 billion from health care. But it would also get rid of a tax on incomes over $200,000 for single filers and $300,000 for joint filers, first levied in 2009. Cuomo promised during the campaign that he would close the budget gap without raising taxes, and the affluent people in New York would be so disillusioned if they saw a politician breaking his promises. But Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver and a growing army of other Democrats want him to do just that!
It's estimated that extending the tax on the richest 3% of New Yorkers for another year could generate about $1 billion in revenue toward the $10 billion budget gap. (Some say it could raise up to $5 billion.) After a private meeting with Cuomo yesterday, Silver told reporters, "I indicated to him that the overwhelming sentiment of my house is to renew and to do [the tax]." Cuomo remains staunchly opposed, and the Times reports that he has vowed to "use his emergency budget powers" and force a vote if the Legislature doesn't pass a decent facsimile of his original proposal.
Earlier this week, a group of 42 New York elected officials sent an open letter urging fellow Democrats to demand that Cuomo reinstate the tax, writing, "According to the Governor, this is what it means to be a 'new Democrat.' According to the Governor, this is the path to becoming 'the most progressive state in the nation.' If this is what it means to be a New Democrat, and if this is what it means to be progressive then something is very wrong." And last week Councilman Charles Barron heckled Cuomo during a speech, yelling, "Tax the rich!" Other protesters are also telling Mayor Bloomberg to go tax himself, too.