Reclaim New York Initiative, Long Island Residents, Business Owners Tell Albany to Stop Cuomo’s $1B Tax Bomb

(Hauppauge, NY) – Today, Reclaim New York Initiative and Long Island residents and business owners held a press conference, calling on state legislators to stop Governor Cuomo’s proposed $1 billion tax and fee increase, and urging oversight for economic development programs.

“We are here today with the people who personally pay for the state’s failed policies to tell Albany ‘enough is enough’,” said Reclaim New York Initiative Executive Director Brandon Muir. “Stop the lies, stop the waste, stop the tax hikes.”

For pictures and video from Reclaim New York Initiative’s press conference, available for media use, click HERE.

Revenue actions in the 2018 executive budget include an expansion of the state’s internet sales tax, a new tax on health insurers that would drive up costs of premiums and Medicaid, a tax on opioids that would drive up costs not only for patients but insurance overall, and MTA ‘improvement zones’ that would give the embattled agency another way to tax New Yorkers.

“Long Islanders serve as New York’s bank. The combined state and local tax burden is one of the highest in the nation,” Muir stated. “The Governor’s budget compounds these problems with the threat of a $1 billion tax bomb. The budget would keep the moving vans rolling.”

Amendments that would add a new payroll tax system and state-controlled charities are targeted for only a small sliver of New Yorkers, and are an unworkable distraction. Experts have called into question their legality and complexity. The Governor’s proposal offers no mandate reform. New York’s system of unfunded mandates drives high local property taxes, especially downstate.

“Albany promised to address high property taxes with mandate reform years ago, but Albany has largely ignored its promise,” said Muir. “It’s time for Albany to deliver and reform unfunded mandates. That’s how they can help Long Islanders who have seen their deductions capped.”

Reclaim New York Initiative has launched a campaign across radio, internet, and its grassroots network to engage New Yorkers in stopping the Governor’s $1 billion tax and fee increase proposal, and reforming economic development spending in a $168 billion budget that costs twice as much as Florida’s despite similar populations.

“The Governor’s budget hits the trifecta on healthcare by increasing costs on patients, providers, and medicine. It also expands taxes on online purchases. This makes living here more expensive, when Albany should make it less expensive.” Muir added. “That money gets wasted. Economic development programs defined by corruption trials, questionable reports, illegal signs, and fake photos get even more money. It’s a slap in the face to the hard-working people paying the bills.”

The budget’s billion-dollar tax bomb includes:

  • $75 million (soon to become $159 million) internet sales tax expansion – making online shopping even more expensive for New Yorkers, smashing constitutional taxpayer protections, and invading privacy.
  • $140 million, 14% Health Insurance Windfall Profit Tax – driving up the cost of health insurance in a state where premiums are second-highest in the nation on average, and various taxes and surcharges on healthcare amount to $4 billion already.
  • $500 million tax on conversions of health insurers – an unreliable revenue grab targeting the sale of Fidelis, a Catholic Church-affiliated non-profit insurer.
  • $3 million for-hire Vehicle Safety Inspection Fee – targeting certain types of passenger carriers and making it more difficult for them to do business.
  • $127 million tax on opioids – making the cost of buying prescription painkillers more expensive while investing only $18 million in drug & alcohol treatment.
  • MTA property tax or “value capture” legislation –  this proposal would create special districts near Subway stops allowing the MTA to tax residents even more.
  • $15 million (soon to be $30 million) Highway right-of-way fee on fiber optic cables – just as the state spends big tax dollars on broadband expansion, the budget includes a fee that slows expansion and makes it more expensive.

New Yorkers pay more while Albany spends more on failed, wasteful initiatives:

  • Nearly $1 billion more on the state’s lead economic development agency – dumping more tax dollars into the most expensive, least effective economic development programs in the nation (according to an Upjohn Institute report).
    • Including $45 million for more glitzy promotional ads and a $30 million fund to cover for photonics failures.
    • No independent oversight for economic development – the Governor’s proposal empowers political appointees, despite an ongoing corruption trial surrounding a former top aide and economic development bid-rigging allegations.
  • More money for REDCs, no transparency on conflicts of interest– the “Hunger Games” will continue to operate with untold conflicts of interest the public cannot see, ineffective reporting of results, and weak transparency.
  • $225 million for a shared services gimmick – a publicity stunt to help Albany dodge responsibility for its role in driving high property taxes across the state. Instead of real mandate reform, this program uses state tax dollars to pay for limited savings from sharing local services.
  • Increases state bureaucracy and fringe benefits.