A group of protestors held a rally outside one of the budget hearings at the Capitol on Thursday, calling on the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes. Advocates including NYSUT, worker unions, the Fiscal Policy Institute, and more are saying it’s time to expand on the state’s wealth tax.
They say this money could be used to address funding gaps in education, healthcare, transportation, and public housing.
The bills they are proposing would apply a two percent state tax on wealth over $1 billion, raise the income tax rate on income above $5 million a year and apply a new tax on luxury homes and apartments in New York.
"When we hear they have to balance the budgets on the backs of Medicaid beneficiaries, we have to say that is unacceptable," said Katie Robbins, director of the Campaign for New York Health. "We are not going back on the Medicaid promise, in fact, we are calling for a bold healthcare agenda where we pass the New York health act for universal guaranteed health care and as that’s being implemented we use taxes on the ultrawealthy to make sure everyone resident and immigrant has coverage."
These bills have been introduced before, but support for a wealth tax has increased this year since the state is facing a budget deficit. Important services such as education, public housing, health care, are all at risk of receiving quite a bit less funding then they did last year.
Rallies in support of a wealth tax have been ramping up in recent weeks and NYSUT plans to roll out statewide ads explaining to New Yorkers how a wealth tax could benefit them.
The Hart Research Associates released a survey that showed 92 percent of New York voters are in favor of raising taxes on billionaires and ultra-millionaires.
Governor Andrew Cuomo in the past has not been supportive of a wealth tax. He says this could drive the wealthy out of the state and the state relies on these taxes. The state currently generates around $4.5 billion from a temporary millionaire’s tax.
This temporary tax on millionaires was just extended last year for the next five years.