Republican candidate for governor Lee Zeldin would push the "largest tax cut" in New York history if elected this November and indicated Monday he wants to cut taxes in virtually every corner of the state budget.
The details of Zeldin's plan, however, are not yet specifically spelled out. At the same time, he did not commit to an extension of eliminating 17 cents in gas taxes, set to expire at the end of the year (Republicans in the state Senate have called for a full elimination of gas taxes).
"I believe we need to find relief across the board and there are many, many ways to do it," Zeldin said during a stop at a farm in Albany County on Monday when speaking with reporters. "I believe we need to cut income taxes across the board, I believe the estate tax should be eliminated. We need to put together a package that would be the largest tax cut in the history of the state."
Zeldin has pitched his plans for cutting taxes as a way of preventing a further loss of people and jobs from the state. New York's population has been largely flat over the last decade and the state is losing a seat in the House of Representatives as a result.
"You need to send that message to individuals who are thinking about fleeing the state, you need to send that message to businesses thinking about fleeing the state," Zeldin said.
As for keeping the gas tax suspension, put in place as part of the April budget deal, Zeldin called it "a fantastic conversation for us to have."
"I'm not going to demand there's only way for tax relief in this state," he said.
New York collects the bulk of its revenue from the personal income tax, which budget officials now expect to slow amid the uncertainty hovering over the economy. Budget gaps are now expected in coming years as a result if revenue and spending projections do not change.
Zeldin did not have a specific rate cut in mind.
"We're looking at different options," he said, adding, "My goal is as much as possible."
The budget backed by the Democratic-led Legislature and Gov. Kathy Hochul this year included a faster phase-in of a tax rate cut aimed at middle-income earners in the state, affecting joint filers with income between $27,9000 and $161,550 as well as filers who earn between $161,551 and $323,200.
New York has been gradually lowering taxes for middle-income over the last several years.
Hochul and lawmakers also approved a property tax rebate program for homeowners with incomes below $250,000 as well as beneficiaries of the Enhanced STAR program.
In 2021, lawmakers and then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo agreed to a tax increase on wealthy New Yorkers in order to fund a large increase in school spending. New Yorkers who earn more than $5 million pay tax rates of more than 10% in the state.
The tax increase was hailed by education advocates and progressive organizations, but conservative budget organizations warned taxing the rich too much could lead to more people leaving the state and make it harder to raise revenue.