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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dueling Letters on Cuomo's Budget: UPDATE

There is a contentious "battle of letters" brewing in Albany surrounding Governor Cuomo's budget proposals, and Bronx politicos are deeply involved on all sides. About a week ago, twenty Senate Democrats signed a letter supporting keeping in place the "millionaires tax" -- which applies to people making over $200,000. This letter apparently was spearheaded by Bronx Senator Gustavo Rivera, and it was also signed by Ruben Diaz, Sr. and Adriano Espaillat. Earlier, sixty eight members of the Assembly signed a similiar letter, including Bronx Boss Carl Heastie. Finally, there was another letter put out by another group of Democrats, including some members of the NYC Council and a number of Democratic State Committee members, applauding Cuomo for strong leadership on the budget and supporting the need to make tough choices. The Bronx is barely represented on this letter, but it does include Pat Williams (Bronx Democratic Activist), Aisha Ahmed (President – Liberty Democratic Club) and Joseph McManus (Bronx State Committeeperson). Believe it or not, there are actually a few other letters but I think you get the point. UPDATE: Here is Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. again hitting the Gov. on the "millionaires tax", and of course on the issue of same sex marriage. This issue continues to rankle Albany. The Daily News has an editorial on it and Sheldon Silver is quoted in the NY Post saying they may have to compromise and "may adjust that to conform to the sound bite, all the way to a million."


  1. Since when does earning $200,000 a year make you a millionaire?

  2. Here's a very simple way to bring in a few trillion to the US coffers every year that will not affect public workers, the poor, the middle class or even the vast majority of the wealthy.....

    SImply impose a 1% Tobin tax on every transaction made on Wall Street and its associated trading floors. Paid for by the seller, this tax would do a few things.

    1) It would make those who actually caused the financial meltdown to pay for that mess.

    2) It will not foment idiotic arguments of "class warfare" that the rich so effectively use to squash any complaints that they are not paying their fair share. This is because it would only affect a very tiny portion of the population-those that participate in speculative trading- that could be poor, middle class or rich.

    3) It would conservatively bring in 3 to 5 trillion a year, which is enough to balance all state and municipal governments as well as pay for needed infrastructure improvements.

    4) It would equalize the "sacrifice" that Obama so whines we all need to make. So far, I do not see Wall Street sacrificing anything, and those criminals are the ones who caused the mess.

    If the American people are forced to pay onerous sales and use taxes for buying necessary and unnecessary commodities, and those taxes are generally in the 5 to 8% region, then Wall Street can afford to pay a 1% Tobin tax.

    Hopefully we can all see that we are being manipulated by the politicians and the media to fight eachother rather than the real enemy. This is basically a recipe for Civil War or worse. Of course I have no illusions about our "politicians" ever having the balls to impose a tax on their Wall Street masters, but if the people keep getting gouged as they are, this country has absolutely no future.

  3. @ Anonymous 6:09am -- The name "millionaires' tax" comes from the simple fact that about 85% of people who pay anything under this personal income tax surcharge make over million dollars a year or have assets above one million dollars. Yes, a small percentage of people who aren't "millionaires" pay something because of this surcharge. Remember too -- $200,000 is the taxable income trigger for a single person. For couples, the taxable income trigger is $300,000.

  4. Isn't this about the same number (175k) that is used as a cutoff for de-regulating apts. in NY? Advocates on that issue want that number raised to 225 or 250k -- under the logic above, wouldn't we be protecting apartments of "millionaires"?

  5. J.R.Dobbs is BishopMarch 9, 2011 at 1:26 PM

    I am soooooo tired of these salaried politicos stifling any hope of entrepreneurship in the Bronx. They have no sense of commerce or how to produce a dollar. Producing the dollar from scratch is a different mindset. A mindset that would have made a deal at the Kingsbridge Armory. The aspiration for every Bronx resident should be to become a millionaire and live on our waterfront.

  6. I heartily agree with what "J.R.Dobbs is Bishop" wrote.

    We can blame Bronx Borough President Ruben "Armory" Diaz Jr. for killing what would have been a great project at the Kingsbridge Armory. Sadly, Mr. Diaz is not part of the solution ... he's the problem!

  7. @ Tony
    Not sure I understand your point? High Income De-Stabilization (not to be confused with Vacancy De-Stabilization) permits a landlord to move a rent-stabilized unit to market rates if the unit is renting above $2000 and if the household income (note "household") income is $175,000 or above for two consecutive calendar years. There are a lot of non-millionaires who may have a household (two earners) in the $175,000 range. I have no problem giving them the benefit of rent-stabilization. By the way, the average renter in a rent-stabilized apartment earns just $38,000 a year. So we are talking about rare exceptions. If a policy that leads to preserving a stock of affordable rental units also leads to a few wealthy people benefiting -- I can live with the outliers. The real problem is the permanent removal of units from the rent-stabilized rolls. We have lost 300,000 units through high income and vacancy de-stabilization. Increasing the income levels that trigger de-stabilization will help to stem this unacceptable loss of decent affordable housing. Most importantly we need an complete repeal of vacancy de-stabilization.

  8. I keep scratching my head over this one. 200K may be a lot of money in Albany but its not in NYC. Its provides a middle class life - comfortable and upper middle class to be sure, but middle class none the less. Maybe it affords some the right to pay 20K in property taxes to live in more affluent Westchester communities or pay half a million for a house in Riverdale, if you could find one at that price.

    Regardless, the reality is these folks are already in a higher tax brackets and already fill the bulk of the state coffers, at least as far as personal income tax payers go. It seems to be that the State pols would rather keep there slush funds, fat payrolls and maintain cozy relationships with unions in what is an unsustainable model. Tax stock transactions? Watch the brokerage houses flee to NJ cause that surcharge is getting passed on to the customers, including the private sector middle class guy with a 401K or IRA who doesn't have the benefit of a pension waiting for him upon retirement at 65, not 45 or 50.

    Time for Albany to make some tough decisions, time for government workers to pay the same as their private sector counterparts or at lest come close.

  9. What we need is the end of rent stabilization and the perverse market distortion that it causes. Rent stabilization in New York was supposed to be temporary. Now we have people acting like it’s enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

    Boston already did away with it, and New York should too. Of the billions of people on this planet, only a minuscule percent get to have the law of supply and demand suspended so they can live in the golden cage that is rent stabilization.

    The fairest and best way to end rent stabilization is to phase it out while allowing only the elderly who on fixed incomes to continue to renew their leases as stabilized tenants.