Why We Can’t Afford to Give NY’s Richest a Tax Break
As protesters demanding the extension of the millionaire's tax descend on Albany, Governor Cuomo and the state senate Republican leadership have held firm on their desire to cut taxes for the state's wealthiest. They claim that extending the taxes would force wealthy households to move out of the state or that the tax would kill jobs, but these myths have been widely discredited. Even the Wall Street Journal chimed in, showing that there is no evidence that the wealthy would move to states with lower taxes.
Lawmakers could consider giving the state’s richest residents a tax break if these were normal times and city and state budgets were flush with revenue. But that is clearly not the case today. In fact, these are tax cuts that the state clearly cannot afford.
First, as I pointed out in the New York Daily News, the choices being made by Governor Cuomo could result in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs. With no money for transit investments, job growth in the city’s construction sector is expected to shrink by 18,000 jobs. Plus, 38,000 jobs across New York State depend on the ability of Cuomo and the legislature to fill a $10 billion gap in the budget for mass transit improvements.
Not only will these choices kill jobs, but they put the safety of New Yorkers at risk. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave New York’s infrastructure its worst grade ever. Nearly half of all bridges are structurally deficient. Our drinking water system needs $15 billion in upgrades, wastewater systems need $22 billion. Deferring needed maintenance now will just cost the state more money in the long run.
These choices may also lead to classroom overcrowding. New York City just announced that it will only construct half of the classroom space that it had planned because of budget cuts from Albany. Again, we’re prioritizing tax cuts for the rich over the critical needs of New York State.
Governor Cuomo insists that the state has a spending problem. But in the case of the state’s vital infrastructure, we have an investment problem. Our leaders cannot distinguish between “wasteful spending” and the critical investments that will create jobs, keep New Yorkers safe, and provide children the opportunity to achieve their educational potential.