Phil Ramos: Temporary Surcharge On Those Earning Over $1 Million A Year Is The Right Choice

March 24, 2008

The Assembly Majority’s budget proposal continues our commitment to education, health care, affordable housing and tax relief for working families. To implement these important programs, the Assembly has proposed a temporary surcharge on people earning $1 million or more a year – or nearly $20,000 a week. Compare that to the median income in the Brentwood/ Central Islip area of roughly $56,000 a year. This temporary surcharge of less than 1 percent would affect a little over 70,000 people of whom nearly half live outside the state of New York. Por favor oprima aquí para ver esta columna en Español.

New York State, like many Suffolk families, is facing difficult economic times, but I do not believe working families should bear the brunt of closing the state budget deficit. The last thing working families need right now is to have their cost of living driven up even more. We will not turn our economy around by ‘nickel and diming’ the middle class. That’s why my colleagues and I in the Assembly passed our budget plan that rejects $500 million in fees and taxes that unfairly burden struggling working families, including an increase in the gasoline tax and a $15 surcharge on car insurance policies.

Our plan also includes a 17 percent increase in the Middle Class STAR rebate program, providing $169 million in additional rebates for middle-class families. As a result, Suffolk residents will see increased STAR rebate checks, ranging from $332 to $665, depending on income. We also move forward with a 40 percent increase in Enhanced STAR for seniors 65 and older.

The Assembly’s proposal also maintains our commitment to education. Under the Assembly plan school districts in the Brentwood/Central Islip/Bay Shore area will receive an increase in state funding of over 7 percent over last year. This increase in state funding will also ease the local property tax burden.

Working families are continually asked to give more and get less – it’s a constant squeeze on families who can least afford it. Asking those who make more in a week than some families make in a year, I believe, is a reasonable request in order to give our children the education they deserve and to provide tax relief to those struggling to make ends meet.

By implementing a minimal surcharge on millionaires, we will close this year’s multi-billion dollar budget gap and provide much-needed tax relief to New York’s working families. I call on the State Senate and governor to do the right thing and join the Assembly in passing a budget that makes the right choices for New York’s families.