Major unions and labor organizations on Thursday released a joint statement backing proposals by the Democratic-controlled state Legislature to increase taxes on upper income earners and generate more revenue from the financial service industry in New York.
The support from the labor groups -- including the AFL-CIO, New York State United Teachers, the Communications Workers of America and the New York State Nurses Association among others -- comes as lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are negotiating a state budget expected to pass at the end of the month.
The argument for increasing taxes on the state's wealthiest residents centers around the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the concern the resulting recession has disproportionately impacted lower-income New Yorkers.
“We need a more fair and progressive tax structure to ensure we are able to withstand any future downturns or unexpected catastrophes such as this pandemic," said AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento. "However, just as importantly, fixing our broken state revenue system will ensure that New York can provide the vital public services we all rely upon, day after day, in good times as well as bad.”
Cuomo's budget proposal included an increase in the state's personal income tax rate for those who earn $5 million and above.
Democrats in the state Senate and Assembly are backing proposals, however, that would go further and generate billions of dollars in revenue.
The support for the tax increases on wealthier people in the state, as well as the enthusiasm for doing so in the Legislature, is a sign the $12.5 billion in direct pandemic aid from the federal government has done little to extinguish the push to do so among progressive advocates in New York.
“It’s time the ultrawealthy paid their fair share toward the public services all New Yorkers rely on,” New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta said. “The Legislature has advanced progressive tax proposals that would help generate the revenues needed to help fund public schools, colleges and hospitals in the years to come. We will continue to advocate that these bold proposals make it into the final budget deal so we can begin charting a better path forward for our state.”