A group of 51 New York millionaires wants lawmakers to raise taxes — on New York millionaires.
In a letter addressed to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and state legislators, the group — working in conjunction with the left-leaning Fiscal Policy Institute and Responsible Wealth project — called for a permanent tax on the wealthy to replace a temporary one, with the revenue raised going to investments in poverty programs and 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,” the millionaires wrote in the letter, which was sent to lawmakers in Albany on Monday.
The signatories include some familiar names — Steven C. Rockefeller, Abigail Disney and leveraged buyout trailblazer Lewis Cullman.
The group threw its support behind the Fiscal Policy Institute’s “1% Plan for New York Tax Fairness,” which calls for tax rates of 7.65 percent to 9.99 percent for a number of brackets starting at $665,000 — the income threshold for the top percent of New Yorkers, a group to which each signatory belongs.
The rates would replace a temporary “millionaires tax” that is set to expire at the end of 2017.
In the letter, the group writes that the state’s long-term viability rests on its investment in human capital and physical infrastructure.
“We need to invest in pathways out of poverty and up the economic ladder for all of our fellow citizens, including strong public education from pre-K to college,” they write. “And, we need to invest in the fragile bridges, tunnels, waterlines, public buildings, and roads that we all depend on.”
The tax, they say, should fund such investments. At the same time, the group of top-earners also calls on lawmakers to make permanent a set of temporary lower tax rates for working families.
“As New Yorkers who have contributed to and benefited from the economic vibrancy of our state, we have both the ability and the responsibility to pay our fair share,” they write. “We can well afford to pay our current taxes, and we can afford to pay even more…. Everyone does better when everyone does better.”
Cuomo and state legislative leaders are negotiating their 2016-2017 budget this month. On Friday, the governor described the discussions as tough, citing disagreements over his proposals to increase the state minimum wage to $15 an hour, create a 12-week paid family leave program and address government corruption.
“It’s as difficult a budget season as I’ve gone through,” he told reporters.
The one-percenters who signed the letter said they would also support the plan unveiled by the New York State Assembly last month, which includes a millionaire tax of its own.
The full letter is reproduced below.
Wealthy New Yorkers Support Progressive Taxation
Dear Governor Cuomo and Legislative Leaders,
We are upper‐income New Yorkers who treasure the quality of life in our state. However, we are deeply concerned that too many New Yorkers are struggling economically, and the state’s ailing infrastructure is in desperate need of attention. We cannot afford to ignore these challenges.
As business leaders and investors, we know that the long-term stability and growth of a company requires investments in both its human capital and physical infrastructure. The same is true for our state.
It is a shameful fact that child poverty in New York State is at a record level, 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.
Now is the time to invest in the long-term economic viability of New York. We need to invest in pathways out of poverty and up the economic ladder for all of our fellow citizens, including strong public education from pre-K to college. And, we need to invest in the fragile bridges, tunnels, waterlines, public buildings, and roads that we all depend on. These human and physical infrastructure investments will pay off in the creation of new jobs, a workforce prepared to fill them, and a reduction in the extreme income inequality that currently exists in our state.
The question is: how do we pay for those investments? 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. Specifically, we urge the Governor and the Legislature to implement the “1% Plan for New York Tax Fairness”, which calls for new marginal rates of 7.65%, 8.82%, 9.35%, 9.65% and 9.99% for brackets starting at $665,000 (the top 1% of earners in our state), $1 million, $2 million, $10 million and $100 million, respectively.
We also urge our elected leaders to make permanent the lower tax rates for working families, ranging from 4% to 6.85%, before they expire next year. If the temporary tax rates at all levels are allowed to expire, it will mean a $1 billion dollar tax increase for middle class families and a $3.7 billion dollar windfall tax cut for millionaires like us.
As New Yorkers who have contributed to and benefited from the economic vibrancy of our state, we have both the ability and the responsibility to pay our fair share. We can well afford to pay our current taxes, and we can afford to pay even more. Our state needs to invest this revenue in our struggling schools, in anti-poverty measures and in infrastructure improvements. Our state’s long‐term economic prosperity depends on strong investments in our people and our communities.
Everyone does better when everyone does better. We urge Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature to expand the current “Millionaires Tax” and ensure that upper-income New Yorkers like us keep doing their part to invest in our state.
Sonia Alexander, NYC * Elyse Arnow-Brill, Joshua Arnow, Pound Ridge * Roy Berberich, Mineola * Polly Cleveland and Thomas Haines, NYC * Arthur Cornfield, NYC * Louis B. Cullman and Louise Hirshfeld Cullman, NYC * Pierce Delahunt, NYC * Anne Delaney, NYC * Abigail Disney, NYC * Barbara Fleischman, NYC * Sarah Frank, NYC * Rosemary Faulkner, NYC * Elspeth Gilmore, NYC * Steven and Mary Goldring, NYC * Agnes Gund, NYC * Catherine Gund, NYC * Leo Hindery Jr., NYC * Polly Howell & Eric Werthman, Glenford * Marion Hunt, NYC * Craig Kaplan & Anne Hess, NYC * Dal LaMagna, NYC * Ruth and David A. Levine, NYC * Michael A. and Ann Ross Loeb, NYC * Joshua Mailman, NYC * James and Jacqueline Mann, Mt Kisco, NYC * Mark Nelkin, NYC * Jan Nicholson, NYC * Susan Ochshorn and Marc I. Gross, NYC * Richard Perl, NYC * Seth Perlman, NYC * Karen Pittelman, NYC * Mark Reed, NYC * Steven C. Rockefeller, NYC * Darius A. Ross, NYC * Martin Rothenburg, Syracuse * Lindsay Shea, Germantown * Daniel A. Simon, NYC * Lynn Stern, NYC * Jessie Spector, NYC * Sarah Stranahan, NYC * Peter Strugatz, East Hampton