ALBANY, N.Y. (WWNY) - With just over a week until the state budget is due, a top Democrat said Tuesday Democrats in the state legislature will continue to seek higher taxes from New York’s wealthiest.
That, even as Governor Cuomo’s top budget official said higher taxes are not needed.
“We are asking those who have a little more to do a little more so that we’re not looking at the same inequities year after year, day after day, the same austerity,” said Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who leads the Democratic majority in the state Senate.
Earlier this week, state Budget Director Robert Mujica said the state had comes up with an unexpected $5 billion - half of that from the federal government and half from the state collecting more revenue than it expected, as the economy recovers.
“So as of right now we have the resources necessary so that there would be no cuts in the Governor’s Budget so you wouldn’t require any significant level of tax increases to pay for the restorations,” Mujica said.
Addressing reporters Tuesday, Stewart-Cousins said she was seeking an “equitable return” to a strong economy.
In its version of the budget for the coming year, the Senate raises taxes on people, starting at incomes of just over the million dollar mark. It also raises some business taxes.
At the same time, working and middle class taxpayers would get a personal income tax credit to reduce the “net cost of property taxes.”
Democrats have proposed a total of about $7 billion in new taxes, while businesses have warned against raising taxes as the economy tries to recover.
Republicans are opposed to higher taxes.
“This millionaire’s tax, billionaire’s tax, ultra-millionaire’s tax, or whatever they want to call it, even the governor has seen the practical danger in sending all the millionaires and billionaires out of New York state,” said Mark Walczyk, the Republican state Assemblyman who represents parts of Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties.
The negotiation over the budget comes as Governor Cuomo, who usually dominates the bargaining, faces two scandals - allegations of sexual harassment and mishandling of nursing home COVID deaths.
Stewart-Cousins said Tuesday that negotiations with the Cuomo administration continue, despite her having called on the governor to resign.
“I’ve made it clear and so many of my senators have made it clear how we feel. I don’t think that we’ve lacked forcefulness in what we think. But what I think really doesn’t matter as much as the reality of the position I have right now,” she said.
She also said she believes the legislature is close to a deal to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.