Governor Spitzer isn’t the only one in Albany who’s been up to mischief. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and his fellow Democrats in the State Assembly are pushing a cheap ploy to fleece the city to help balance the budget and pay for upstate programs. Of course, they’re not putting it that way.
The Assembly is toying with an income tax increase on New Yorkers who earn over $1 million a year. The increase would be nearly 1 percentage point and last five years. Now, there are 26,000 New Yorkers with incomes over $1 million. It’s a fair bet that the majority of them live and work in New York City. Imposing a tax hike on these New Yorkers—who already pay a high income tax to the city on top of the state’s highest income tax rate of 6.85 percent—is absurd and irresponsible. Short term, yes, it will raise money. In the long term, it will drive those big earners out of New York, to friendlier tax climates in New Jersey and Connecticut, removing them from New York State’s tax rolls altogether.
One of the city’s great success stories over the past decade has been its ability to retain a thriving upper-income population that in years past would have decamped to the suburbs as soon as the kids could crawl. Moreover, these are the very same people who give generously to the city’s cash-strapped museums, charities and arts programs. To punish them for their success with a new tax burden is a foolish and self-defeating policy. And let’s not forget, the city is the economic engine that drives the state; taxes that unfairly target the city will have their results felt from Staten Island to Schenectady.
Let’s hear how Speaker Silver and the Assembly plan to cut wasteful state spending before they attempt to slam the city with a new tax.