New York Daily News: Wealth tax proposals raise interest - and funding - for New York Dems

Originally published in New York Daily News on February 08, 2020.

ALBANY — A group of state Democrats will join advocates calling on the state’s wealthiest residents to pay more in taxes on Saturday at a Manhattan town hall event.

Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Queens) will be among the state lawmakers discussing a host of proposals, including raising income taxes on the rich, reassessing levies on banks, instituting a surcharge on stock buybacks, a tax on high-priced second homes and re-instituting sales taxes for luxury yachts and private jets, at the “Make Billionaires Pay Town Hall.”

“In a state and a city that has incredible wealth as well as incredible poverty, it seems fair to ask those who can afford it to help chip in more so that we can properly address some of these priorities,” Gianaris told the Daily News.

Dem lawmakers have increasingly expressed openness to ideas coming from a cross-section of progressive advocates who are mounting a campaign to tax rich New Yorkers and use the funds for progressive programs including a guaranteed right to housing for all New Yorkers, an expanded Green New Deal and other ambitious plans that would transform the state.

Advocates estimate the state could raise $30 billion annually by targeting billionaires and other high income earners, which could fund large-scale investments in renewable energy, public housing, schools and healthcare.

New York Communities for Change, Strong Economy For All Coalition and VOCAL-NY will host the weekend event, which will also feature Assemblymembers Linda Rosenthal and Yuh-line Niou, both Manhattan Dems, and Sen. Julia Salazar (D-Brooklyn).

A representative said the groups expect a few hundred participants to join the discussion.

“Across the country there’s a shift in the discourse to support measures that raise revenue by taxing billionaires and New York State is no different,” said Paulette Soltani from the group Vocal New York. “The governor is starting to face more and more pressure publicly around taxes and revenue.”

Gov. Cuomo and his administration have been hesitant to embrace the idea of hiking levies on the ultra-wealthy when the top 2% of state earners already contribute about half of the state’s income tax haul.

"We need to make sure that we’re not just taxing individuals, but we’re controlling spending,” Cuomo budget director Robert Mujica said during an appearance on WNYC earlier in the week.

Some within the Senate Democratic conference also expressed uncertainty, saying they weren’t sure that there is an appetite for the measures in an election year, but could see many of the proposals passing next session.

“It’s a long term solution, not a this year solution,” a Democratic source said.

Read the full story at  the New York Daily News here