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State Senate Approves Plan For Middle Class Tax Break, Millionaire Tax Hike

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Albany lawmakers on Wednesday passed a major overhaul of the state's tax code that will mean higher taxes for the wealthiest New Yorkers and a tax break for millions of residents, pending the approval of the State Assembly.

The measure passed the State Assembly by a vote of 130 to 8, and the State Senate 55-0.

The legislation will give the average middle class household a tax break of about $300 to $400 a year.

It also does away with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Payroll tax.

However, New Yorkers earning $2 million a year will see their base tax rates jump.

The new tax rate would actually be lower than what many wealthy New Yorkers currently pay because of a surcharge on the state's highest earners that is due to expire at the end of the year.

The measure represents an about-face from Governor Andrew Cuomo, who earlier this year said he thought that raising taxes would be "counterproductive for the state."

He said the new plan is a balanced way to address the state's projected $3.5 billion deficit.

"New Yorkers know we are in difficult times, but they want us to be fair in how we handle it, our tax code today is just not fair," Cuomo said. "The additional revenue generated will make a significant difference to our state to help close the deficit. I think this is fair. I think it will benefit all New Yorkers in the long-term."

Prior to the Senate's vote, the plan won plaudits from politicians.

“I think the governor has done a terrific job. At a moment of unprecedented wealth disparity throughout the country, especially here in New York, the idea of making the tax code more progressive and giving a break to middle class families is exactly the right direction to be going, and I credit Governor Cuomo for taking us that way,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris of Queens.

New Yorkers who spoke with NY1 were split on the tax bracket overhaul, however.

"I think we should all pay our fair share. I'm not against wealthy people paying more taxes, as long as it's not excessive," said one New Yorker.

"Unfortunately it won't help me. I'm in the top 10 percent echelon. I pay a lot of taxes, I work real hard," said another.

"I just feel they should pay their equal share. Not just because they're rich, they shouldn't pay. That doesn't sit well with me," said a third.

Included in the bill is about $50 million for upstate flood relief and an inner city jobs program.

Lawmakers will not be voting on an expansion of a livery cab medallion bill. That measure was declared dead by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in a closed door conference.

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