NEW YORK, NY – Community groups and labor organizations held a press conference Monday at City Hall to launch a renewed campaign to stop the State’s planned tax break for millionaires. The organizations, under the banner of 99 New York, called on the Governor and Legislature to do the right thing and stop the $5 billion tax break that the wealthiest New Yorkers will receive if the supplemental tax rates on the wealthiest New Yorkers expire as planned on December 31st of this year.
Representatives from numerous community and labor groups attended the press conference, including SEIU 1199, 32BJ, DC37, UFT, NYSUT, TWU, CWA, Coalition for the Homeless, Alliance for Quality Education, Make The Road NY, Citizen Action of NY, UnitedNY, the Strong Economy for All Coalition, the Working Families Party, New York Communities for Change, Community Voices Heard, Fiscal Policy Institute, Center for Working Families, New York State AFL-CIO, NYC CLC, NYC Coalition for Educational Justice, NYC Parents Union, Human Services Council, and GrowingTogetherNY.
To fund this massive tax break for the wealthy, New York State has slashed education funding by $1.3 billion this year. Funding for the MTA has been cut by $100 million, public sector jobs are being cut across the state and even programs supporting homeless children were cut by 50% in the most recent state budget.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew said, “One percent of New York City taxpayers make nearly half of all the income in the city, yet when all state and local taxes are taken into account, the richest taxpayers pay a lower percentage of their total income in taxes than do people in the middle. It’s unconscionable that we are even considering letting the millionaire’s tax expire, particularly when public services are being decimated across the state.”
“The current economic and employment crisis has working families struggling to survive and care for their families,” said George Gresham, President of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. “Each day more New Yorkers are losing their jobs, their healthcare benefits, and their homes. Now is not the time to allow a tax break for the wealthy while 1 in 5 New Yorkers lives in poverty. We urge elected leaders in Albany to take a stand for the 99% and stop this $5 billion tax giveaway.”
“Now more than ever when most New Yorkers are struggling to make ends meet, and our state government faces daunting deficits, we need everyone to do their part through shared sacrifice,” said 32BJ’s Hector Figueroa. “Working families should not have to bear the burden of a massive tax break for our state’s most wealthiest individuals. It’s only fair that those fortunate enough to be millionaires step up to pay their fair share when so many New Yorkers are hurting.”
“More and more American understand that too many of those ultra-rich folks – including one holding public office inside this building (NYC’s City Hall), just fail to grasp that they need us to become and remain wealthy,” stated I. Daneek Miller, President and Business Agent of ATU Local 1056, represents drivers and mechanics who work for MTA New York City Transit’s Queens bus division. “They depend on us to buy their goods and to keep the economy going and we need the state to stop its disinvestment by giving such super rich unneeded, unwarranted and unjustified tax giveaways.”
“The truth is cuts do hurt our children,” said Zakiyah Ansari, Alliance for Quality Education, Organizer. “In NYC this year we’ve lost 2600 teachers through attrition as well as 600 school aides and parent coordinators who provide critical services to schools. As a result, New York City children are currently in schools with fewer teachers and programs needed for college and careers. Communities of color across the city have been disproportionately hit the hardest by the $1.3 billion cuts to schools. The Governor and Legislature must stand up for our children – the 99% – and extend the Millionaire’s Tax to restore needed aid to schools.”
“Because Albany decided to give millionaires and billionaires a tax break, daycare and early childhood education programs are being cut, class sizes are ballooning, and public safety workers are being laid off,” said Jesse Laymon, Downstate Campaigns Manager, Citizen Action of New York. “New York needs to work for all of us, not just the rich. New York’s working families are depending on Governor Cuomo and the Legislature to stop this irrational tax break for New York’s richest.”
“There is something very wrong when providing tax breaks for the New York’s wealthiest residents becomes more important than maintaining necessary educational programs and social services, and expanding job creation programs,” said Camille Rivera, Executive Director of UnitedNY. “Despite what some would have elected officials and the public believe, financial net worth is not an accurate measure of a person’s potential, and ability to make a difference in the world. It is time for this Governor, and this Legislature to stand up and do the right thing for the people who rely on them the most.”
“Since there is such broad support for the millionaires tax from the public we hope the Governor and some of our elected officials will reconsider their ‘line in the sand’ opposition to its extension,” said Ron Deutsch, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness and coordinator of GrowingTogetherNY Coalition. “They are sticking to their mantra that millionaires will flee the state should it continue but they offer no research to support their claims. The reality is that if anyone in this state needs a tax cut it is not millionaires and billionaires it is struggling working class families that are the backbone of our economy.”
“Now is the time for our elected officials to stand up and join our fight to protect the hardworking men and women of this state. With unemployment still sky high, 99 percent of New Yorkers should not have to bear the burden of massive tax break for millionaires and billionaires. We know the Governor and legislature want to do the right thing, so we ask them to join us in fighting for economic justice for the 99 percent,” said Michael Kink, Executive Director of the Strong Economy for All Coalition.
“As the ranks of the poor and needy swell throughout the state, we need everyone to pitch in to relieve some of the pain. Additional dollars are desperately needed. Continuing the PIT surcharge on the wealthy is the way to do this,” said Michael Stoller, Executive Director of the Human Services Council.
“Giving the super-rich another tax break at the same time that child care programs, schools and other vital services are being cut just does not make sense. The Governor and the State Legislature should stand up for a fair New York and stop the State’s planned $5 billion tax break for millionaires,” said Ana Maria Archila, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York.
“Governor Cuomo’s fears are unfounded: there’s no basis for fearing that people will leave New York based on our millionaires tax,” said Sunshine Ludder, Economic Policy Strategist for the Center for Working Families. “What studies do show is a consistent lack of evidence for the claim we often hear that wealthy populations will move to avoid paying taxes. New York’s high-end tax rates account for a much-needed $5 billion of the state’s revenue. In a time of steep economic struggle for both individuals and the state, a millionaires tax cut would be foolish. Instead of funding a tax cut for less than 4 percent of New York, our leaders should invest directly in reversing our crippling jobs deficit – jobs with decent wages and with real accountability for the state’s dollars.”
Similar press conferences were held Monday by community and labor organizations in Albany and Buffalo, with more events to follow on Tuesday in Rochester and Long Island.
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