Op-Ed | It’s time to make New York’s wealthiest pay what they owe
The national fight for tax justice has strong roots in New York. After the Great Recession of 2008, New Yorkers fought for and secured progressive income tax reforms, including the first modest tax increase for New Yorkers earning more than $1 million. We fought to keep these reforms with Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Albany activists to prevent cuts to essential public services.
Twelve years later, during the global pandemic, task forces and the transformative Invest in Our New York campaign worked with lawmakers to raise billions of dollars in new public funding from tax increases on billionaires and wealthy corporations to finance the initiatives.
The additional public funds — which continue to exceed economic projections — were invested directly in programs and services that benefit us all — expanded child care and health care, full funding for public schools, emergency benefits for immigrant workers and new investment in truly affordable housing. .
But we can’t stop there – these investments must still meet the level of need New Yorkers currently face. Policymakers have an obligation to ensure that the millionaires, billionaires and wealthy corporations that continue to make record profits pay what they owe in taxes and invest those public funds directly in our communities.
That’s why dozens of New Yorkers and elected officials gathered earlier this month as part of a multi-state effort to demand tax fairness and new investments in working people to fund our future. Our wealth tax meeting took place at 740 Park Avenue in Manhattan, where residents have amassed over $100 billion in wealth. The ultra-rich are extremely comfortable in New York, and their lives will continue to be luxurious once a reasonable tax on their wealth is implemented.
Governor Hochul’s budget proposal released yesterday continues to prioritize corporate giveaways while failing to invest in the services and programs that keep all New Yorkers safe and thriving. That’s why we’re calling on our state legislators to do the right thing and ensure that ultra-wealthy New Yorkers and wealthy corporations pay into the system they benefit from. We deserve a budget that lifts up and prioritizes middle-class, working-class and low-income New Yorkers.
According to a recent Targetsmart Research poll, eighty-four percent of New Yorkers — nearly all voters — believe taxes on billionaires are necessary. And we must not allow a handful of corporate politicians to manipulate the rules to redirect resources from our communities to their coffers.
Governor Hochul has the opportunity to dismantle the system and collect $40 billion in public funds by making sure the super-rich pay what they are owed.
We can use that money to invest in public services to make our lives more affordable and easier: universal child care, higher education, and affordable housing for every New Yorker facing homelessness or homelessness. housing.
Opponents of raising taxes on super-rich New Yorkers always claim that millionaires and billionaires will flee en masse if their taxes go up. But the current evidence suggests otherwise—and we can’t count on modest tax increases on billionaires and corporations when, even with those increases in place, they still aren’t paying what they owe.
When Governor Hochul outlined her plans for the 2023 legislative session, she said that all New Yorkers deserve to live their best lives possible — not just the billionaires on Park Avenue. She quoted Frances Perkins, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Secretary of Labor, who once said, “A government should aim to give all people under its jurisdiction the best possible life.”
It’s a bold statement, but it’s achievable.
Progressive pro-labor New Yorkers have done this by implementing revolutionary new ideas that center working people, supported by transformative public investments funded by progressive tax policies.
Governor Hochul can and will be a popular and successful leader if she follows this path. We’ll be watching to see if she practices what she preaches.