Senate GOP Rejects de Blasio Administration’s Call for New Tax

The State Senate Republican Conference shot down a de Blasio administration desire to create or raise new real estate taxes next year.

State Senator Dean Skelos, the Republican majority leader. (Photo:  Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images)
State Senator Dean Skelos, the Republican majority leader. (Photo: Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images) (Photo: Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images)

Read their lips: no new taxes.

A spokesman for the State Senate Republicans bluntly rejected a de Blasio administration official’s call for a new real estate tax, arguing that creating a new revenue stream to fund the mayor’s affordable housing plan sends “the wrong message” to New York City.

“Our position hasn’t changed. Senator Skelos remains opposed to any new tax increases,” said Scott Reif, a spokesman for the Senate GOP. “Raising taxes sends the wrong message to New York City and the entire state, and to those who are working to create jobs and strengthen our economy.”

Mr. Reif also said New York City is “the highest-taxed city in the country, and increasing taxes now would roll back the progress we’ve made over the last few years in controlling spending and taxes.”

The stern rebuttal comes days after Alicia Glen, the deputy mayor for housing and economic development, said on NY1 Friday that the administration would be seeking a new revenue source–i.e. tax–to help fund Mr. de Blasio’s ambitious plan to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next decade. She implied that even Republicans would be receptive to the city’s desire to find new funding streams for the plan.

“What we’re talking about is, to the extent that we can identify a particular revenue source that would go directly towards housing, I think that there’s real interest in that amongst a really wide variety of stakeholders that wouldn’t necessarily be the kind of people who you would think would come together for such an important thing,” Ms. Glen said.

Ms. Glen appeared receptive to a bill that would create a new tax on expensive property owned by non-city residents. With the GOP in full control of the State Senate–they won an outright majority earlier this month–it would appear the bill, advanced by State Senator Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat, is going nowhere.

Ms. Glen said the administration had looked at a “variety of different revenue proposals” and would be deciding what to advocate for in Albany, where much of the city’s tax structure is determined. “We’ve begun to lay out some basic concepts for that as we get ready to go to Albany and I think there is some general consensus that, for the City of New York to really do what we need to do for the public and to have the housing stock that we need, that to be able to capture some portion of this extraordinary real estate market is an appropriate way to go,” she said.

The political dynamics are not in Ms. Glen’s favor. Mr. de Blasio committed considerable political capital to trying put the Democrats in the majority and confine the Republican Conference to the minority, where they have rarely been over the last half century. Mr. de Blasio’s efforts failed: mirroring gains nationwide, the GOP won just about every competitive race and now has little incentive to cater to Mr. de Blasio, a liberal Democrat reviled in the many suburban and upstate districts where Republicans reside.

“Despite what others may want, we are not going to raise taxes just to raise them,” Mr. Reif said. Senate GOP Rejects de Blasio Administration’s Call for New Tax