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Solving the Massive State Budget Shortfall

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December 11, 2008

New York, NY — Tolls are going up and property taxes are on the rise, while key state programs still face the budget axe. But now there's another suggestion: New York should reinstate a progressive state income tax, meaning higher tax rates for higher incomes. That's part of the advice Gov. David Paterson will get today at a regional budget hearing.

Lisa Tyson, director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition, says if more New Yorkers paid their fair share, it would reduce or eliminate the need to increase tolls and property taxes. She says the roots of the state's budget mess go back to the 1980s, when lawmakers killed higher tax brackets.

"So, someone who makes $40,000 is paying the same tax rate as someone who makes $400,000, and that's just wrong. We need to restore that funding and restore fairness in taxes."

Paterson will announce his budget plan early next week. He has said raising taxes would only exacerbate the budget crisis.

Democrats gained control of the state Senate in the November election. Tyson believes that could shift the tide in Albany in favor of a progressive state tax. She notes that as a lawmaker, Paterson favored progressive income tax proposals. She hopes that, as governor, he will return to that position.

"How does he cut as much as possible, how does he cut the fat out of the budget? That could be his strategy right now, saying 'no new taxes.' But to deal with a $12.5 billion deficit, new taxes are necessary—-there's just no choice."

Tyson will testify in favor of the progressive tax structure, similar to the federal income tax structure, at today's regional budget hearing. It begins at 11 a.m. at Brookhaven Town Hall.

Michael Clifford/Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY