Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has recently initiated a new campaign — pushing Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to tax the billionaires residing in New York. The tax money would be used for the people who have been financially hurt by the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.
Although it was strongly opposed by the Republicans, who controlled the State Senate for a long time, and Cuomo, who is a third-term democrat well-known for his tax-cutting platform, a similar tax structure targeting the wealthy has been implemented in Albany.
This shows that the government has changed. The Democrats have gained control of both Houses of Legislation during the Blue Wave election held in 2018. The overwhelming effects of the novel coronavirus has forced the economic shutdown, which has caused the state budget to fall short a total of $13 billion.
Jessica Ramon, a state senator of Queens, came up with a bill to tax the capital gain of 119 billionaires of the state. The collected money would be utilized for the workers who were not covered by the unemployment insurance coverage or the federal stimulus.
The proposed legislation is one of the three tax-the-rich bills.
The fact is that even with the Democrats having control of Albany, the measures are still sure to encounter strong opposition from the Republicans and the business leaders.
“If Washington hangs New York State out to dry, then we must consider all our options so that we can take care of our neighbors and our communities, and invest in our long-term recovery,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairwoman Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan). “That means ensuring that those with the most are pitching in their fair share, and those with the least are not made to bear a disproportionate burden.”
Last May, State Senator Jessica Ramos and other prominent progressives came up with the bill with majority of the sponsors in Assembly to collect tax on residents with $1 billion or more in assets.
Mr. Cuomo has argued and opposed the bill as he believes that targeting high earners could drive them out of the state, which could jeopardize the tax structure of the state. The Governor’s Budget Director, Robert Mujica, also shares the same concern as Mr. Cuomo.
What Mr. Mujica has recently said is very logical—New York already has the highest tax rate for the wealthy in the country. The top two percent of the taxpayers contribute to half of the state’s tax liability. If they were made to pay more in taxes, the only effect could be to drive them out of the state, which would cost the state the money they already pay.
According to Mr. Mujica, the congressmen are supposed to push for state action in Congress. However, if they are unable to do it, the Federal Government should take matters into their hands and provide the right support for the state. This is exactly where Ocasio-Cortez plays the vital role as she is part of the coordinated effort pushing Mr. Cuomo—saying that the state should act on it immediately.
“Governor Cuomo, we need you to pass a billionaires’ tax, in order to make sure that we’re providing for our working families,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said. “It’s time to stop protecting billionaires, and it’s time to start working for working families.”
What happens next is very crucial as last Thursday, 100 immigrant workers started the day fast asleep— outside, near the Fifth-Avenue Penthouse of Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos, who is also the richest man in the world. On Friday, the workers will begin a “March On Billionaires”, which will end at Mr. Cuomo’s Manhattan Office.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state needs at least $10 billion in budget to sustain the education, health, and public safety of the state. This is the exact reason the state has forced lawmakers to come up with the new taxation plans.
As of this moment, only one thing is for sure. With the Republicans no longer in charge of the State Senate, the Tax the Rich proposal is more likely to pass. One final and immovable obstacle stands in the way — Mr. Cuomo steadfast in insisting that the Federal Government needs to step up to help New York City.