51 millionaires to NY Gov. Cuomo: 'Raise taxes on one-percenters'

Posted Mar 23, 2016 by Megan Hamilton
Several well-heeled New York millionaires want legislators to raise taxes on the one percent, including themselves. And 51 millionaires said so in a letter addressed to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislators.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Pat Arnow (CC BY-SA 2.0)
These millionaires are working with the left-leaning Fiscal Policy Institute and the Responsible Wealth Project and their letter calls for a permanent tax on the wealthy to replace the current temporary one, The Washington Post reports. Specifically, they want the revenue created by the higher tax rate to go to investments in poverty programs and New York's crumbling infrastructure.
"In the spirit of shared sacrifice, we, the undersigned, call for a balanced solution that includes maintaining, expanding, and making permanent the top marginal income tax rates for upper-income New Yorkers like us who can afford to pay more," they wrote in the letter that was sent to Albany lawmakers on Monday.
The group added that they were concerned that too many people in New York are struggling with poverty, in a state whose infrastructure was failing badly. They urged lawmakers to pass "the 1% Plan for New York Tax Fairness," the Guardian reports.
So who are some of the backers of this plan?
They include Steven Rockefeller, a fourth-generation member of the famous family; Elspeth Gilmore, who works to encourage younger wealthy people under 35 to donate to worthy causes; and Joshua Mailman, son of inventor-philanthropist Joseph Mailman.
Those who signed the letter stressed that funds are needed to address the issues of child poverty, homelessness, and crumbling infrastructure.
"It is a shameful fact that child poverty in New York state is at a record level," the signers wrote, "exceeding 50 percent in some of our urban centers. New York State has a record number of homeless families – more than 80,000 people – struggling to survive across the state. And far too many adults in our state do not have the work skills needed for the 21st-century economy."
Investing in people and infrastructure will pay off by creating new jobs and a workforce prepared to fill them, and it will reduce the extreme income inequality that currently exists in the state, they noted.
Lewis Cullman, who's the retired chief executive of the At-A-Glance appointment book company said he supports the plan because philanthropy doesn't always pay for crucial things – like street maintenance, food inspections, or public schools.
Lawmakers in the state are in the midst of sorting out a new income tax deal by April 1. The tax rate schedule as it exists is set to expire at the end of 2017 and if a new deal isn't in place, anyone making more than $40,000 per year will only pay 6.85 percent, the Guardian reports.
Under the plan as it exists, those who have more than $2 million in taxable income pay 8.82 percent. This new proposal moves to have that rate apply to people who make between $1 million and $2 million.