Long Island Dems wary of Hochul's housing, payroll tax proposals

Yancey Roy

February 26, 2023

Originally published in Newsday on February 26, 2023.

One legislator called them potential “extinction-level events” for Long Island Democrats.

The reference to electoral danger isn’t over Gov. Kathy Hochul’s goals for improving mass transit and affordable housing, Long Island Democrats say, but rather two key elements of her plans that some believe could cost them in the next election cycle.

One would increase the so-called MTA payroll levy paid by employers in the highest tax bracket. The other would allow a state panel to override local zoning laws.

“I don’t believe local zoning should be removed from local control,” said state Sen. Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood), one of two Island Democrats left in the Senate following last November’s elections. “We’re not against building — we know there is an affordable housing crisis.”

Her colleague, state Sen. Kevin Thomas (D-Levittown), struck a similar note, saying he wants to “ensure that any final plan maintains local input and control over housing development.”

“Each community in our state is different — and we, as community members — know their needs the most,” Thomas said.

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