What the New York State Budget Means for Upstate Families

March 21, 2008 -- Partnership for Working Families

By Mark Spadafore, SANE Executive Director

On Thursday, March 27th, the Syracuse Alliance for a New Economy (SANE) co-sponsored a hearing on the New York state budget with the Greater Syracuse Labor Council, AFL-CIO and the Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse (ACTS) – Gamaliel Foundation affiliate.  The goal of the meeting was to advocate for a state budget that addresses the needs of working families of upstate New York rather than that of wealthy New Yorkers.

During the hearing, representatives from the Fiscal Policy Institute, New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness and the Hunger Action Network of New York State presented facts and figures on the $124 billion, 2008-09 executive budget and its implications on working families of upstate New York.  Instead of cutting taxes which increases the negative impact on health care, education, and infrastructure, Ron Deutsche of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness proposed a modest increase in the income tax for families with incomes over $1 million dollars.

The Millionaire’s Tax is part of the Better Choice Budget Campaign, aimed at instituting a temporary tax surcharge for families with income over a million dollars as a way to fund a fair budget that invests in New York’s working families.  Aside from providing tax revenue to fund public services, the Millionaire’s Tax would provide property tax relief measures.

Some lawmakers already support the Millionaires’ Tax.  Assembly Democrats have passed a budget plan that includes a temporary increase of less than one percent (from 6.85 to 7.7 percent) on taxpayers with taxable incomes of more than $1 million a year.  And Quinnipiac College’s Polling Institute released a poll on March 24 showing that New York State voters support, 77 to 19 percent, a plan to raise state income taxes by 1 percent on people making more than one million dollars a year.  Even Republicans back the millionaires’ tax 65 - 31 percent, while Democrats back it 83 – 13 percent and independent voters back it 81 - 16 percent.

The Millionaire’s Tax is not new.  A similar surcharge was used in 2003 to close huge state budget gaps.  According to Reverend Kevin Agee, pastor of Hopps Memorial Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, “The temporary surcharge is not painful for millionaires and frankly many of the people who would pay this tax are not from around here.  The property taxes can drive working class families and seniors out of their homes and out of the Syracuse area.”

Click here to listen to a WRVO radio interview with Mark Spadafore, SANE Executive Director on how the New York state budget affects working families.