Less than an hour after Gov. Andrew Cuomo wrapped up his budget address, a statement from Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins landed in the in-boxes of reporters.
The upshot: Democrats in her chamber want to raise taxes on the wealthy in New York.
"We all understand the need for real federal help. New Yorkers have suffered so much during this pandemic," she said. "We have a responsibility to ensure our recovery and that this recovery is not balanced on the backs of the hard hit New Yorkers. The wealthy have gotten wealthier during this crisis even as the Middle Class has shrunk and millions of New Yorkers have struggled to make ends meet. We must be ready to act as a state to advance efforts to raise revenues, including having the hyper-wealthy share this burden."
This could be at odds with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who wants $15 billion in direct aid from the federal government by the end of March approved in order to stave off a mix of spending cuts and tax increases. If the full money is approved for New York, which is no guarantee, tax increases are possible.
Cuomo proposed in his budget, which assumes a bare minimum of $3 billion in aid for this coming fiscal year alone, a tax increase on people who earn more than $5 million. This, in turn, will generate about $2 billion that along with cuts and borrowing will close a budget gap made worse by the pandemic.
State lawmakers have proposed tax increases that would go potentially lower than $5 million, starting at hiking rates at $2 million, others at $750,000.
The best-case scenario, of course, is a budget that gets much more in federal aid -- a full $15 billion to help close this year's budget gap and the next. If that money is approved, a tax increase won't be necessary as a deficit closer, said the governor's top budget advisor, Robert Mujica.
"The need for it goes away. If people want to raise taxes, that's a different conversation," he said.
Mujica was less thrilled with the idea of a tax on stock transfers and a "wealth tax" which he said may not be constitutional.
But the effect of the pandemic has been more New Yorkers have left the state -- something progressive advocates dispute, but also something Cuomo wants to avoid.