Broad Coalition of Elected Officials and Union Leaders Unite in Support of Extending the Millionaires' Tax
Call for saving education, health care and transportation by not cutting the taxes of millionaires
October 25, 2011
New York, NY – A broad coalition of elected officials and union leaders gathered on the steps of City Hall in support of extending the millionaires' tax in New York. With a budget gap in the billions, New York State is facing steep reductions in addition to the dramatic cuts over the last three years in education, health care and transportation. Also at risk is higher education, COLAs for senior services, child care subsidies and meals for seniors. According to the Fiscal Policy Institute, if New York State were to maintain the current tax rate on those earning a million or more, there would be over $4 billion in additional revenue each year to plug budget deficits and prevent further cuts to vital services. If the surcharge were extended on all high income taxpayers covered by it, the revenue yield would be about $5 billion per year. The impact of maintaining the current structure on millionaires only would be on less than one-half of one percent of New York resident tax returns. Research done by the Center on Budget and Policy Priority (“Tax Flight is a Myth"), showed interstate migration is rare: only 1.7 percent of the residents moved from one state to another between 2001 and 2010. When it does happen, the cause is not higher taxes but housing cost differential, the quality of high-quality public services and better employment opportunities. On top of that 45 percent of the people paying the millionaire’s tax don’t even live in New York State (non-residents would pay nearly 19 percent of the millionaire’s tax). “New Yorkers deserve a budget plan of shared sacrifice: we can’t get through these lean times by cutting education, health care, public transportation and other vital services to the middle class and those struggling to make it,” said Assembly Member Karim Camara (D-Brooklyn), chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus. "I applaud the Caucus for addressing the issue of The Millionaires' Tax at a time when so many in New York are facing lost jobs and reduced services, it is unconscionable that the wealthiest among us will receive what amounts to a tax cut and take home more money after Dec 31, 2011," said Assembly Member William Scarborough (D – Queens). “As the economy continues to worsen with dismal prospects ahead, our working poor continue to suffer. The disproportionate rate of unemployment and people living in poverty has led to the imbalance of survival needs and resources in our communities. Extending the tax on the truly wealthy will bring the necessary relief and stability to our low income families. Moreover, it will allow local and state government to manage a system with sustaining resources that will provide a safety net for our city. This means real revenue for health care, housing, job development skills, childcare services, homelessness, senior services, youth programs and our children’s education- the list is endless. If the tax expires, then our families’ ability to withstand the city’s economic downturn will be destroyed! Governor Cuomo needs to extend the millionaire's tax to avoid further damage to our neighborhoods,” stated Council Member Robert Jackson (D – Manhattan), co-chair of the New York City Council Black, Latino and Asian Caucus. “The Bronx is one of the poorest counties in the United States, and the 14th council district which I represent is one of the poorest districts in the Bronx. I have witnessed firsthand the daily struggle faced by many of my constituents to simply put food on the table. As the gap between the rich and poor grows even wider, it is not unreasonable to ask those who have been fortunate enough to be very successful to sacrifice a little. The millionaire’s tax is one way we can make this happen, and I urge the Governor and State Legislature to extend it as soon as possible,” said Council Member Fernando Cabrera (D – Bronx), co-chair of the New York City Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus. “I am proud to stand with my colleagues to announce avid support of the Millionaire’s Tax! We need to act now by eliminating loopholes, instead of coddling the wealthy at the expense of our hardworking families, children, and seniors,” said Assembly Member Grace Meng (D-Queens). “As members of the Black, Latino and Asian Legislators Caucus, we represent communities of color that are among the most impacted by the economic downturn, unemployment and budget cuts,” said Senator Gustavo Rivera (D – Bronx). “We have to ensure that the wealthiest New Yorkers are paying their fair share and voice our support for progressive taxation so that our communities do not continue to bear the brunt of budget shortfalls in years to come.” "I lend my voice in support of the extension of the Millionaire's Tax. At a time when this fiscal crisis has triggered austerity measures that have caused significant cuts in education and health care, it is imperative that we find additional revenues to assist the most needy affected by those reductions. Now is truly a time where shared sacrifice is needed and that those who have more can and should contribute in turning New York around," said Assembly Member Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes (D - Erie County). “Implementing a millionaire’s tax is a matter of basic economic fairness. Those who benefited the most from this economy should pay their fair share. By instituting a millionaire’s tax, we will be able to avoid cuts to crucial services like education, healthcare, and social safety net programs which are important to middle-class and poor New Yorkers, particularly in communities of color,” said Senator Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan/Bronx). “Should the personal income tax surcharge sunset, we would be providing what is essentially a $5 billion tax cut to the wealthiest New Yorkers while our schools are under funded, our infrastructure is deteriorating and our most vulnerable citizens are struggling to make ends meet. It is important to extend a true millionaires’ tax so that we can provide adequate services for all New Yorkers,” stated Senator Martin Malavé Dilan (D – Brooklyn). "If New York’s Millionaires' tax is allowed to expire in January, the state is predicted to lose approximately $5 billion over the next two years. In an economic climate where rapid transit support has been decreased and fares are scheduled to be increased, where 832,100 work-age NYC residents lack a high school diploma, where the Governor has cut a billion dollars for NYC schools and eliminated funding for the NYC Work Advantage program which helps provide permanent housing for over 15,000 domestic violence and homeless shelter residents, it is unfathomable that our wealthiest citizens will get this kind of tax break. Just how much further will cuts go once the Millionaires' tax is eliminated? It is deplorable to allow the brunt of fiscal pain to fall on the neediest members of our community, and I agree with Dr. Martin Luther King, who said, 'I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few.' Letting the Millionaire’s tax expire means failing to protect millions of New Yorkers who are depending on us to do what is right. It means favoring millionaires instead of funding our future," said Senator Bill Perkins (D-Manhattan). “As New York State continues to struggle through these difficult economic times, we can not allow a gaping hole to be left in the budget by wealthy New Yorkers who are ducking their responsibilities and not paying their fair share. With so many families struggling to survive, we must extend the Millionaires’ Tax so we can use the nearly one billion dollars it would raise next year to maintain vital services like quality education and healthcare,” said Assembly Member Vanessa L. Gibson (D-Bronx). "It’s about time that the lower and middle class stop taking the hit for the financial deficit of this country, and it’s about time we start to tax the wealthy in America who can financially handle it. Until this issue is resolved, I will continue to march and support the "Occupy Wall Street" movement," said Assembly Member Jose Rivera (D-Bronx). "Only a few days ago, Goldman Sachs announced that it was setting aside $10 billion dollars for end-of year-bonuses for their employees. This announcement came days after the U.S. Census released new data on the almost 50 million Americans living in poverty. In those figures, it was revealed that six million Hispanic children are destitute. For the first time in the history of our nation, a minority group comprises the largest number of poor children," declared Assembly Member Naomi Rivera (D – Bronx), chair of the Assembly Subcommittee on Foster Care. "What makes us, the most diverse nation on the planet and also the most civil, is our evolving efforts to be more equitable, to be inclusive, to share resources and power. It is obvious that with tens of millions of our fellow Americans in distress and without bread, we can not tell them to just go 'eat cake'." “The loss of revenue, $1 billion in 2011-12 and $4 billion in 2012-13 budgets, is far more damaging to the people of New York State than it would be to the millionaires. Millionaires can write-off their state taxes against their federal taxes but other people in our state can’t write-off the decrease of teachers and the increase of children in school classrooms, hunger, and the loss of health care programs,” said Assembly Member Herman Farrell, Jr. (D-Manhattan). “The city's richest families, whose incomes average $2.3 million a year, are getting an average break of $124,000 this year on their federal taxes. Meanwhile, state and city budget cuts are cramming more and more children into overcrowded classes, after school tutoring, art and music are disappearing in our schools and hundreds of school aides are on the unemployment lines. New York’s millionaires do not need another tax break while public services are suffering,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “As the expiration of the high wage earner personal income tax approaches its December 31st deadline, I am urging our State Legislators and our Governor to enact a real millionaire’s tax which will generate $5 billion in revenue annually – paying their fair share is the equitable thing to do,” said Wanda Williams, Political Director, DC37. "New York's millionaires are here to stay. There's no evidence that wealthy populations move to avoid paying taxes -- but plenty of evidence that New York needs the $5 billion that our millionaires tax generates every year. In a time of real economic struggle, a millionaires tax cut would be foolish. Instead of cutting taxes for the top 3-4 percent of New Yorkers, our leaders should use that tax revenue to create good jobs," According to Sunshine Ludder, Economic Policy Strategist for the Center for Working Families.