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Cuomo Tax Plan: “Good Start, But Not Enough”

December 7, 2011

NEW YORK – Gov. Andrew Cuomo has reached a deal with state lawmakers on a tax-overhaul plan he says can break the political gridlock and grow the economy. The plan would raise taxes on wealthy New Yorkers and generate an estimated $2 billion a year.

Billy Easton, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education, calls it an important step in the right direction, but says the plan falls short of filling the $5 billion budget gap he says was created by eliminating the existing millionaires' tax.

"It is clearly a response to all of the demands of the 99 percent of New Yorkers who want fairness. It does not go far enough. Our schools have taken serious cutbacks."

When Cuomo puts together his budget, Easton says, he needs to take the next step and close corporate-tax loopholes. State lawmakers could be asked to vote on the package in a special session by the end of this week.

James Parrott, deputy director and chief economist at the Fiscal Policy Institute, says the tax plan takes a stab at creating more progressive tax brackets, but his group had proposed an alternative he says would have generated more than double the yearly revenue.

"We had proposed an expanded circuit-breaker that would provide tax relief for high property tax burdens. But on the whole, again, it is a step in the right direction, but it falls a little bit short."

At New York Common Cause, executive director Susan Lerner expressed concerns that all the talks on this important tax-overhaul plan took place behind closed doors.

"No direct input by the public or any of the affected constituencies, and that's very disappointing. At the same time, we're very glad to see that the issues are being addressed. We just think the results could have been even stronger, more vigorous, if there had been a public process."

Cuomo says the plan would give middle-class families in New York their lowest tax rate in 58 years.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY