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The Key to More Progressive NY Taxes? Activism in 2011

December 21, 2011

NEW YORK - Advocates for education in New York credit activism by the local "99 percent" in 2011 - from parent, student and teacher rallies to the Occupy movement - for pushing lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to enact a more progressive state tax structure.

At local school-board meetings, in tents on Wall Street and on college campuses, New Yorkers of all ages came together in a high-impact demand for tax fairness, says Nikki Jones, communications director for the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE).

"It was the countless rallies, the speak-outs and then, of course, the 'Occupies.' The governor heard the voice of the '99 percent.' For this reason, we have a milestone in our fight for equity in New York state."

Jones gives Cuomo credit for enacting a more progressive personal income-tax structure, which is expected to generate $2 billion in state revenue next year. Still, she says, that accounts for less than half of the $4.5 billion the state will lose when the millionaires' tax expires at the end of this month.

Looking ahead to 2012, Jones says her group supports the Board of Regents' proposal that three-fourths of the money New York spends on education should go to high-needs districts.

"That will make a difference. We have to make sure that all of our children are ready for college and careers and that they're receiving the opportunity to learn. So, prioritizing any funding into those districts will make all of the difference."

Jones says AQE wants to see tax equity not just for individuals but also for big business. She hopes Cuomo will work to close corporate tax loopholes in the year ahead.

"Just one example: When you have corporations that deal in real estate and they're not paying their fair share of taxes - if that was enforced, the state could have an additional up to $700 million in revenue."

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY