Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Plan to Raise Taxes on the Rich Is Gaining Momentum

The New York Times posted a recent article on a plan to raise taxes on wealthy New Yorkers, and its growing popularity. A section of the article can be found below, but the full post can be found here.

A plan to raise income taxes on wealthy New Yorkers is gaining momentum in the State Legislature as lawmakers continue to grapple with the state’s gaping budget deficit.

A group of Senate Democrats plans to introduce a bill on Tuesday that would impose an income tax of 10.3 percent on the highest-earning New Yorkers, a rise of 3.45 percentage points, and increase taxes on all households that earn more than $250,000 a year.

The plan, which supporters estimated could bring in up to $6 billion annually to the depleted state treasury, is one of several options Albany lawmakers are considering as an alternative to the reductions in social services and smaller, more focused tax increases that Gov. David A. Paterson has proposed.

State legislators and the governor are finding themselves under increasing pressure — from the state’s powerful labor unions and liberal groups in particular — to raise taxes on the wealthy.

Although an income tax increase on the state’s highest-earning residents passed the State Assembly last year, its fate in the Senate is less certain. Republicans, who controlled the chamber until January, blocked it last year.

With the Democrats now in control, the bill seems to stand a better chance of passing. But not all 32 Democratic members have signed on, including Malcolm A. Smith, the majority leader, who said on Monday that he was not convinced a tax increase was the right solution for New York’s budget crisis.

“Let’s talk about what the problem is,” Mr. Smith said to reporters as he was leaving a conference of the New York Bankers Association in downtown Albany on Monday afternoon. “The problem is foreclosures. The problem is a $15 billion deficit. The problem is trying to figure out how do we create jobs in this economy. So in that regard, I’m not sure if taxes is the way you do that.”

Among the bill’s supporters, there is a sense that they face considerable — but not necessarily insurmountable — skepticism from Senate Democrats.

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