As he campaigned for Democratic state Senate candidates, Governor Andrew Cuomo accused Republicans of fear mongering on issues like hiking taxes. Now, Democrats in January will be taking over the state Senate with a comfortable majority.
In the meantime, liberals are pressing Democrats in the Legislature to raise taxes on the rich, as current rates on millionaires are due to expire at the end of 2019.
"It actually needs to be expanded. We should add brackets for people making $2 million, $5 million, $10 million," said Billy Easton, Alliance For Quality Education.
Activists want to see the extra money from tax increases spent on schools or mass transit needs in New York City.
"This should be the moment New York is leading the country and showing what a progressive vision is," said Easton.
Retaining the current 8.82 percent rate will not impact the $3 billion budget deficit projected for next year. Lawmakers, as well as Cuomo, may be wary of raising taxes as upper income earners are already hurt by the federal government's $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions.
"The question now is what's he going to do? Because on the one hand, the new federal tax law has significantly increased the cost of New York income taxes almost entirely to high income people," said EJ McMahon, Empire Center For New York State Policy.
New York relies heavily on the personal income tax to fund its budget revenue. Predominantly, that revenue comes from the richest households in New York — about 60,000 people — but if they move out of state, New York's finances could be in trouble.
"Small behavorial changes and location changes and migration trends could make differences of hundreds of millions of dollars," said McMahon.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, has said her conference is not supportive of raising the existing tax rates.