Skip to content

Heroes Act? Yes. And Budget Justice? Budget Justice?

July 26, 2020 pm31 2:12 pm

Inequality. We know it exists. We, most of us, know it’s not right. But did you know there is a serious push to attack inequality, right here in New York State?

A package of legislation, collectively known as “Budget Justice” is in the State Senate and Assembly. Take a look:

List of Demands:

(1) Pass the Fund Our Future legislative package  to avoid +$10 billion dollars in budget cuts. Package includes:

  • Ultra-millionaires Tax (S.8164 / A.10364): Tax increases on those earning above $5 million, $10 million and $100 million per year

  • Billionaires Tax (S.8277 / A.10414): Outlaws unjust tax shelters to make billionaires pay income tax

  • Pied-a-terre Tax (S.44 / AA.4550): Sliding-scale tax on non-primary residences worth over five million dollars

  • Stock Transfer Tax (S.6203 / A.7791): Repeals rebate of .25% state sales tax on stock trades

  • Stock Buyback Tax (S.7629 / A.9748): New .5% sales tax on stock buybacks

  • Mezzanine Debt / Preferred Equity Tax (S.7231 / A.9041): Fee on mezzanine debt and preferred equity financing equal to mortgage recording tax

(2) Invest new revenue into addressing the systemic and accelerating inequities in our K-12 and Higher Education, Healthcare, Housing, and other Public Services as well as solutions to tackle growing crises like Climate Change and our crumbling Democracy.

(3) Pass the Budget Equity Act to amend Article VII of the New York State Constitution to give the legislature equal powers to the governor in the annual budget process. The elected legislature should be accountable for the funding future of our communities.

Wow! Maybe this is fringe-legislation, with no real backing?

Well, no. Each seems to have a substantial number of sponsors. Many are sponsored by anti-IDC insurgents. I see Biaggi a lot. And Jackson.

My State Senator, Jamaal Bailey, is a cosponsor of S.44. There’s over 20 sponsors in the Senate on that bill. They call it the “Pied-a-terre Tax” – but they picked the wrong name. They should call it the “Hideous Pencil Tax” – to remind people that we are taxing millionaires and billionaires who paid for those hideous pencil buildings to scar the NYC skyline, while not even living in NY.

He’s also co-sponsor on the Billionaires Tax, which closes loopholes and directs the revenue into a worker bail-out fund.

That Ultra-billionaire Tax, love the name, but it doesn’t do enough.  The highest rate in New York State right now is 8.82%. The bill would make it 9.32% on income over $5,000,000 (five million), 9.82% on income over $10,000,000 (ten million), and 10.32% on income over $100,000,000 (one hundred million). Those increases are 1/2 of 1 percent, 1 percent, and 1 1/2 percent. Not enough, but I’ll take them!

Here’s some quick slides that explain each tax – and how easing the burden on counties and the middle class by making the wealthy pay more makes sense.

Heroes Act

The Heroes Act would infuse the states with a huge one-time pot of cash, that is desperately needed during this crisis. Budget Justice, on the other hand, would create an ongoing flow of money, that would ease the tax burdens on the poor and middle class, and would allow state aid to localities grow (localities across the state, not just NYC, have been crushed by this governor’s regressive approach to financing.) Both Heroes Act and Budget Justice are vitally important.

Where are the Budget Justice bills now? I don’t know. I don’t get how NY State government works. I hope they are making their way forward.

Here’s more to think about:

Don’t New Yorkers already pay too much in taxes?  

Middle-class and lower-income New Yorkers do. New York’s property taxes are the highest in the country, in fact New York State faces a property tax crisis that affects owners and renters alike.  This was created by Republican Governor George Pataki and State Senate Leader Joe Bruno, who cut taxes for rich New Yorker in the 1990s and shifted much of the costs of state services onto local governments. Counties and towns were forced to shoulder a much greater burden for key services like road repair, school aid, libraries, and elder services than almost anywhere else in the country. To meet these costs, local governments have had no choice but to steadily raise property taxes and assess fees even as services have declined. A report by the New York State Commission on Property Tax Relief found that low- and middle-income taxpayers pay property tax rates that exceed their income tax rates.  The capping of SALT deductions has increased the average New Yorker’s overall taxes even more. This unfair tax system, combined with rising home costs from gentrification, puts home ownership increasingly out of reach for most New Yorkers, damaging the health of our economy

But the wealthiest New Yorkers and large corporations pay too little.  Recent research shows that in 2018, after decades of tax cuts, the ultra-wealthy now paid a lower tax rate than the bottom 50% of Americans.  At the same time, subsidies allow large corporations to get away with paying very little in state taxes. We need to reform our revenue system to increase the share paid by billionaires, mega-millionaires, and large corporations, and to reduce the unfair burden on everyone else.

Here’s some more:

We got rid of the IDC and elected a Democratic majority in 2018.  Doesn’t that mean we now have a truly progressive state?

No. Governor Cuomo has manufactured a false narrative of fiscal austerity that maintains the Republican agenda of low taxes on the wealthy and starves our communities of needed funds. In 2011, the Governor imposed a spending cap that prohibits the legislature from increasing the state budget more than 2% annually. But this spending cap is not law, nor is it based on sound economic principles. As long as our lawmakers refrain from challenging it, we cannot fund the many progressive changes voters have demanded.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: