2011-04-07 / Letters/Opinion

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Editor,

I must first congratulate the Governor for an early budget, something not seen for decades. I also want to commend his support for a wage floor for home health workers. If these measures make it into the budget, it will be a significant win for working people. At the same time the ends do not justify the means. I am frustrated with a budget that cuts anything without asking millionaires to pay more since they have more. I know we are in very hard times, and I understand that cuts are necessary, but I would be able to stomach it if EVERYONE was asked to share the pain. Everyone except the wealthy was asked.

In a recent survey, even the wealthy agreed overwhelmingly that they should be asked to give more. The only reason I can see that this tax was not included was so the Governor and the Republican Senators could count on continued campaign contributions with lots of zeroes behind them. There is no other explanation. And in the process of supporting their position, a lot of myths and deceptions were perpetuated.

Let’s first dispel a few myths/deception as to why the “millionaires tax” could not be included.

MYTH: All millionaires would leave New York causing the city/state to lose valuable revenue.

TRUTH: Since the tax began there are more millionaires in the state, not less. In fact according to the new census data, it is poor, working and middle class people who have taken flight because they can no longer afford to live here. But I guess we shouldn’t care about them too much.

MYTH: The state promised no new taxes so therefore we cannot extend the Millionaire’s tax.

TRUTH: The Personal Income Tax, commonly called the “millionaire’s tax, is not a “new” tax. It was simply an extension of an existing tax that expires this year. In addition, it is offset by the Bush Era tax cuts that were extended. The millionaires have received a reprieve from both the federal government and the state.

And let’s look at this word “tax.” They say no new taxes as if you have more money in your pocket. This, however, is the ultimate deception. Let’s replace the word “tax” with “money for stuff.” If you do that, you see that you will have to pay more money for many things especially if you are poor, working or middle class. It’s like saying your property taxes won’t increase and then getting walloped with extremely high water and heat bills.

Lastly, any friend of tenants would have ensured that rent regulation was not only discussed, but in the bill AND strengthened. The “money for stuff” will affect millions of New Yorkers after June 15th, if it is not addressed. They will also lose the right to renew their lease or ask landlords to fix code violations without fear of easy evictions.

The governor has now left open the ability of the landlord lobby, who recently thanked Pedro Espada for his great work in the industry (not being sarcastic, they really did), to flood upstate republican senators with money to either weaken regulations or worse, not extend them at all. This would be unimaginable.

I thank the Mayor for speaking out against this budget, but wonder where he was when so many of us were asking him to lobby Albany for the “millionaires tax” to prevent this disaster we all saw coming. It might be better to scream at the driver before the vehicle crashes.

There is still time. Call all your State elected officials to tell them that any budget that does not included the “millionaires tax” or “rent regulation” is not a budget that supports New Yorkers. Let’s really focus in especially on those who may want to run for higher office in say maybe 6 years or so. End the conversation with “we won’t forget who supported us”. Remind them that New York State has a lot of electoral votes!!

Sincerely, Jumanne Williams

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