Legislation in Albany as essential to long-term budget balance and fairness
New York, NY (June 28, 2011)– The New York City Council’s Progressive Caucus today introduced a resolution supporting an extension of New York State’s current “millionaire’s tax,” an income tax surcharge on high-income households, for households earning more than $1 million per year.
The resolution was introduced by Council Member Jumaane Williams on the same day that the City Council adopted the New York City Budget for Fiscal Year 2012. Progressive Caucus members praised Speaker Christine Quinn and Finance Chairman Domenic Recchia for their leadership in restoring essential services which had been slated for elimination in Mayor Bloomberg’s Executive Budget proposal — including threatened teacher layoffs, fire company closures, day care slots, parks, and library services, as well as many vital programs for immigrants, survivors of domestic violence, at-risk youth, and other communities who rely on city services.
At the same time, an extension of the millionaire’s tax is essential to New York’s longer-term efforts to balance the City and State budgets, maintain essential services, and achieve some measure of tax fairness. Both the City and State budgets continue to be in deficit. But the answer cannot be to cut services which are essential to New York’s communities and families. Class sizes are already rising, thousands of day care slots and summer youth jobs have been eliminated, library hours reduced, and many services cut to the bone.
At the same time, income inequality in New York has risen dramatically. The top 1% of households in New York City has seen their share of the city’s total income rise from 24% in 1990 to 44% in 2007. Yet those same households pay only 34% of New York City’s total taxes. Quite simply, they are not paying their fair share.
The resolution supports legislation introduced in the New York State Legislature (A7802/S5453) by the Speaker of the NY State Assembly, Sheldon Silver. The existing millionaire’s tax is set to expire on December 31, 2011, costing the state over $1 billion in the current fiscal year, and nearly $5 billion next year. The state legislation would extend the existing surcharge for those earning over $1 million, and allocate funding for New York’s public schools. With the millionaire’s tax extension it will be far more possible to responsibly balance the City and State budgets in years to come.
The Progressive Caucus agrees with Speaker Silver when he said: “Quite simply, this is a moral imperative. “We should not give a special handout to multimillionaires and billionaires while our children’s futures are in jeopardy.”
“We in this city have had to swallow some difficult budget cuts this year, many of which could have been avoided if the Millionaire’s Tax were reinstated. The only way we can bring back programs such as the Peter Vallone Scholarship, upon which so many of our young people have relied for their education, and restore the damaging cuts to our youth services is by raising revenue, and Wall Street continues to lobby against paying its fair share. The fact is that we all work and live in this city together and we should all be involved in shared sacrifice for the ultimate benefit of one New York City. If Wall Street refuses to work with us, then we need to support Speaker Silver’s continued fight in Albany to restore fairness to our budgetary process.” Council Member Jumaane Williams, District 4, Brooklyn
“Extending the existing New York State millionaire’s tax should be a no-brainer. It is essential for long-term budget balance, preserving essential public services from schools to safety to seniors, and providing a modest measure of shared sacrifice in a city that is growing more and more unequal.” Council Member and Progressive Caucus co-chair Brad Lander, District 39, Brooklyn
“This year’s budget includes important restorations to education, firehouses and critical human services, but if we ever expect to address our structural deficit, we must ask the wealthiest among us to put in their fair share. The extension of the Millionaire’s Tax is an important first step in doing so. We need genuine shared sacrifice during these economic times, and asking the wealthy to continue to pay what they are already paying in taxes is a reasonable and common sense proposal.” Council Member and Progressive Caucus co-chair Melissa Mark-Viverito, District 8, El Barrio/East Harlem, Manhattan Valley and Mott Haven
“In New York City, the top 1% of wage earners has seen their share of total income rise to 44% in recent years. The millionaire’s tax simply asks for a shared sacrifice from the wealthiest in our city.” Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, District 26, Queens
“The budget season may be over but the millionaire’s tax does not expire until the end of the year. Tonight the City Council has taken the first step in signaling to the State our need for real revenue raising options in the year to come. We want to ensure that this year’s cuts are the bottom line. It is now time to look at ways to raise money and to do that we need a progressive income tax in New York City,” Council Member Margaret Chin, District 1, Manhattan
“It is simply time to implement fair-share tax policies, and eliminate unaffordable tax breaks for the wealthy. Viable Alternatives to funding cuts of essential services are available. Therefore extending the statewide Millionaires Tax is a fair and just option, which would support and protect many families, City agencies, non-profits and the least among us.” Council Member Letitia James, District 35, Brooklyn