By Jimmy Vielkind 

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Progressive lawmakers and groups said New Jersey's agreement to increase taxes on millionaires should be matched in New York, and are pushing the state Legislature here to convene soon to consider a revenue package.

A coalition of advocacy groups called #FundExcludedWorkers, which includes unions representing nurses and auto workers, is planning a Friday protest along Park Avenue to call for taxing the income and wealth of billionaires.

The coalition this month bought billboard advertisements in the districts represented by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, both Democrats. Some Democratic state legislators have called for a return to the Capitol to consider tax proposals.

The novel coronavirus pandemic prompted a $14.5 billion decline in state revenues, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo has pushed off negotiations on adjusting the state budget in the hope that Congress will appropriate additional aid. The Democratic governor said last week that might mean a delay until after the November election.

But some lawmakers say New Jersey's action undercuts that argument, and they will increase pressure for action.

"I've never been jealous of Jersey before," said Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, a Democrat from Manhattan. "It goes to show something, and means we can't use the excuse that people will go to Jersey if we raise taxes."

Top-ranking New Jersey officials agreed to raise the rate to 10.75% from 8.97% for tax filers earning between $1 million and $5 million. People earning more than $5 million already pay that rate. The millionaires tax would bring in additional annual revenue of about $390 million.

New York State taxes personal income over $1,077,550 at a rate of 8.82%. If income over $1 million were taxed at 10.75%, the state could generate an additional $5.28 billion a year, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute, a labor-backed think tank.

"While New Yorkers bore the brunt of Covid-19 in lives lost and economic disruption, our state leads the nation in income disparity, and that is reflected in our tax code," said Jonas Shaende, the organization's chief economist.

Mr. Cuomo is still resistant to the idea. His budget director, Robert Mujica, said after the New Jersey announcement that most of New York's top earners live and work in New York City, where the top combined city and state income tax rate is 12.6%. Mr. Mujica has frequently said that the highest-earning 2% of New York tax filers account for a majority of income tax receipts.

"There is much discussion about the state and nation's economic condition and the options available to New York state. Let's make sure the discussions are informed," Mr. Mujica said.

Republicans say New York should first look to reduce spending before increasing taxes.

Mr. Heastie and Ms. Stewart-Cousins haven't announced plans to return to session, but both have signaled their support for raising income taxes in the absence of federal funding.

A spokesman for Mr. Heastie declined to comment. In a statement, Ms. Stewart-Cousins said, "While we collectively work to get needed federal aid from Washington, there is no question that substantial additional revenue action from the state will be necessary."

State Sen. Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat who chairs the chamber's finance committee, said she supported raising taxes but believed the Legislature had to work in concert with Mr. Cuomo on any adjustments to the state budget that was adopted in April.

"People think that somehow we can do this without the governor, and I empathize with the desire, but I don't think it can actually happen that way," she said.

Write to Jimmy Vielkind at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 21, 2020 15:48 ET (19:48 GMT)

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