Legislators and Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that they have agreed on a tentative package aimed at overhauling the state's tax code and providing $50 million in grants for flood-ravaged areas upstate.
“Not only did Washington fail to act in a constructive way, but the federal government’s gridlock has actually roiled the markets and made the situation worse. Needless to say, we need to act to improve our economic situation, and we need to act now,” said Cuomo.
Overhauling the state's tax code decreases rates for 4.4 million residents, and it addresses a $3.5 billion deficit by adjusting rates for those making $2 million and more by giving them less of a tax cut then the wealthy were due to receive at the beginning of 2012. The plan ultimately raises $1.9 billion, which will go toward closing a $3.5 billion gap.
After releasing the details, Cuomo was criticized from both sides. Progressive groups had called for $4 billion in added tax revenue, while conservatives say Cuomo is reneging on his pledge not to raise taxes.
“I think the governor's doing everything he can to jumpstart the economy. Obviously you do that in the context of a national and a global economy, but I think he's trying to use whatever tools are at his disposal,” said Assemblyman Joseph Morelle.
The plan includes the creation of a fund for infrastructure projects, an inner-city youth jobs program, as well as the flood relief for farms and businesses damaged during Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.
While the plan was lauded by the Assembly Democrats in Albany, it was criticized by good-government advocates for being patched together behind closed doors and with no public input. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver defended the process.
“There have been no secrets about it. We've taken a strong position. The public has weighed in. Labor has weighed in. The editorial boards have weighed in. There has been as much public debate about this issue of our tax code as there has ever been,” said Silver.
Senate Republicans are due in Albany on Wednesday to meet on the measure. Silver said the Assembly will meet at noon to vote on the package.