Governor Cuomo is pushing for an overhaul of the state tax code that he claims will “fairer distribution of the tax burden.” Senator Ruben Diaz, who is a member of the State Senate Finance Committee, told the Observer he doesn’t know the specifics of Governor Cuomo’s proposal yet, but no matter what, he won’t support any plan that doesn’t include a higher tax rate for wealthy New Yorkers. “He cannot have his cake and eat it too. He’s either for taxes for the millionaires or he’s against it,” Senator Diaz said.
Governor Cuomo’s call for a tax code overhaul comes after months of controversy over his opposition to extending the so-called “millionaire’s tax.” The tax, which was enacted in 2009 and expires this year, meant a higher tax rate for people who make more than $200,000 annually. Though polls show New Yorkers support the tax, Governor Cuomo has fought against it earning him the ire of a diverse coalition including Occupy protesters, Democratic senators and small children.
Senator Diaz said he voted against Governor Cuomo’s budget last year because it didn’t include the tax and he’s happy to see his fellow Democratic senators joining the fight.
“Me and Senator Tom Duane, we were the only two Democratic Senators, the only two Senators at all that voted against the budget last year because it did not include the tax for the millionaires and also it did not include an extension of the rent control law,” Senator Diaz said. “My colleagues in the Democratic Senate … didn’t want to listen to me last year and they told me that they would vote for the budget in order not to embarrass the Governor. They voted for a budget that cut revenues to the minority community and to the poor. I’m glad to hear that they are willing, this year, not to vote until the millionaire’s tax is included.”
In an op-ed column sent to media outlets today, Governor Cuomo argued his new tax overhaul plan is superior to the millionaire’s tax.
“The millionaire’s tax purported to shift the tax burden to the super wealthy to alleviate the burden on the middle class. But it failed on both counts. It actually raised taxes on people who were making $200,000 – hardly ‘millionaires.’ And it did absolutely nothing to lower the disproportionately high tax burden on middle class families,” Governor Cuomo wrote.
Senator Diaz said he’ll vote for any plan that creates higher tax rates for the wealthy, but he’s not sure what Governor Cuomo’s overhaul entails.
“If Governor Cuomo finds a way where the millionaires will pay more taxes and alleviate the burden of the middle class, I will consider that. Right now, I don’t know what he means, what he’s doing. I don’t know what he wants to do,” said Senator Diaz.