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Occupy Albany Rally Expected to Put Spotlight on Millionaire’s Tax

October 21, 2011

ALBANY, N. Y. - Protesters, union members and students are among those expected to Occupy Albany today (Friday), in solidarity with the movement that began on Wall Street. At least for some, the rallying cry will focus on New York's so-called "millionaire's tax."

New York State United Teachers President Dick Iannuzzi expects that educators will join the protest. He believes education should be driving the state's economy, but says the push for tax cuts in Albany is driving education into the ground instead. Iannuzzi tallies the loss of educators in New York at 20,000 in the last three years and says education funding has been reduced by $3 billion.

"The way to fix it is to either keep the 'millionaire's tax' on the books, or come up with a fair tax system going forward that will guarantee that we're talking about shared responsibility on everybody's part."

A Sienna College poll released this week shows the Occupy Wall Street protests seem to be triggering renewed interest in the tax, with 72 percent of registered voters saying they favor increasing taxes on New Yorkers making over $1 million a year. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the poll numbers won't sway him, and that under no circumstances will he consider extending the millionaire's tax, which is set to expire at the end of the year.

Iannuzzi was in Washington, D.C., earlier this week. He says he believes the Occupy Wall Street movement is also putting pressure on at least some in Congress to rethink their opposition to President Obama's jobs bill.

"As one of the senators said, 'When you dial 9-1-1, you don't want a billionaire to answer the phone, you want a well-trained police officer or firefighter to be there. When you call dial the school, you want speak to an educator, you don't want to speak to an answering machine.' That's what the jobs bill is about."

The U.S. Senate is expected to take up the $35 billion portion of the jobs bill that deals with first responders and teachers in coming weeks.

Today, the Occupy Albany protest is expected to begin at noon at Lafayette Park, with a general assembly scheduled for 5:00 p.m. The park is located at Eagle and Washington Streets, Albany.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY