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Iím not going to go back and forth with the political winds.

In spite of popular opinion, Cuomo says no to state millionaire's tax

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Governor Cuomo is coming under increasing pressure to change his stance against renewing an income tax surcharge on the state's millionaires. A coalition in favor of continuing the tax has rebranded itself, and is gaining strength from the Occupy Wall Street movement. But Cuomo, so far, is not changing his mind.

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Reported by

Karen DeWitt
NYS Capitol Correspondent

A group of unions and advocates for the poor have begun a new push to preserve New York’s income tax surcharge on millionaires when it runs out at the end of the year.

Calling their movement “99 New York”, for the 99% of New Yorkers who would not be effected by the tax surcharge, organizer Ron Deutsch says if the income tax surcharge on the state’s top 1% of income earners is not extended when it runs out at the end of the year, it amounts to a multi billion dollar tax windfall for the rich.

“It is unacceptable to allow a $5 billion dollar tax cut to be enacted on December 31st of this year,” said Deutsch.

The group says the money could be better used to prevent teacher lay offs and health care cuts.

Governor Cuomo says he’s for taxing millionaires, but only if it’s done nationwide, as part of President Obama’s jobs package.

“Because then it wouldn’t put any state, and I’m concerned about this state, at a competitive disadvantage,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo says extending the tax only in New York would hurt business and cause the rich to flee the state.

A poll issued by Siena College finds nearly three quarters, or 72% of New Yorkers, support extending the tax on the rich. And the 99 Percent coalition say the continued Occupy Wall Street movement, which has spread to other cities, is further evidence of support for their proposal.  The poll also found that the majority of people in New York State identify more readily with the Wall Street demonstrators than with Tea Party activists. 

Cuomo has defended the Occupy protesters, saying demonstrations are a part of democracy, but he says he’s still not likely to be swayed by recent events into rescinding his position.

“I’m not going to go back and forth with the political winds,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo compares his situation to the principled stance his father, former Governor Mario Cuomo, took against the death penalty, even though polls at the time showed it was increasingly popular among New Yorkers, and led to yearly veto showdowns with the legislature.

The current Governor Cuomo joked that if he based all of his governing positions on polls, then he could be replaced with a computer.

“It wouldn’t even be a big computer nowadays,” the Governor said. “Maybe an I-Phone.”   

Siena’s Steve Greenburg says Cuomo, so far, has not been hurt by his opposition to taxing millionaires, he remains  popular with voters, with approval ratings at 71% in a survey released October 17th.  In fact, Greenberg says, New Yorkers may even appreciate a politician who is “consistent”.

“And that’s why voters aren’t angry with him about this,” Greenberg said.

The issue of taxing the rich is not likely to go away anytime soon.

Activists say they hope to make the most of the New Year’s Eve timing of the tax’s expiration, and Assembly Democrats are expected to propose an extension of the income tax surcharge on the state’s wealthiest as part of the budget talks.

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