Last Tuesday in front of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Manhattan office, the coalition of legislators and organizations announced the Invest in Our New York Act, a package of six bills they said will raise at least $50 billion annually.
Lawmakers identified the package of legislation as their top priority for the 2021 legislative session, and intend to host town halls, lobby days, phone banking, canvassing and more to get it passed this year.
“Now, it is time to lead the nation with the boldest tax justice agenda designed to break up the extreme concentration of wealth that’s causing the worst economic divide we have seen in human history,” said Assemblyman Ron Kim. “It is time to fight like hell to make sure every New Yorker’s basic human needs are met: food, shelter, health care and education.”
The Invest in Our New York Act includes a proposal to establish a progressive income tax, where New Yorkers pay a “significantly higher rate” if they earn more money. Lawmakers expect that to raise between $12 and 18 billion.
A capital gains tax proposal by Kim would tax income from investments like stocks the same as wages. Legislators expect that measure to raise $7 billion.
The proposed heirs’ tax, which taxes large sums of inherited wealth, would yield $8 billion annually. An additional billionaires’ tax, followed by a constitutional amendment to allow a wealth tax, would raise $23 billion in the first year, and $1.3 billion per year thereafter, lawmakers said.
The final two measures are a Wall Street tax, which would tax Wall Street financial transactions, and a bill to repeal the Trump tax cuts by restoring taxes on the profit that a corporation makes each year. The first bill would raise between $12 and $29 billion, while the second would raise $9 billion.
“We shouldn’t shy away from conversations about raising taxes on the wealthy or implementing a progressive tax structure,” said State Senator Julia Salazar, who is sponsoring the Wall Street Tax bill. “Equitably taxing the rich is the economic justice that our New Yorkers need and deserve.”
State Senator John Liu said in a statement that lawmakers should commit to raising revenue from wealthy New Yorkers “who can best afford it” as the state emerges from the pandemic and fiscal crisis.
“Budget cuts will only exacerbate inequities and further harm those that have suffered the most in this public health crisis,” he said. “Austerity is not the answer. We must invest in vital public programs so New York can come back strong.”
In addition to introducing legislation, progressive groups also released a new report detailing claims of economic mismanagement for the past decade, as well as the underfunding of public services.
The report found that Cuomo cut taxes on wealthy New Yorkers and corporations in the past ten budgets while cutting funding for public services. They also argued that budget cuts exacerbate the current economic crisis.
Additionally, the report makes the case for raising at least $50 billion annually to not only close the $15 billion budget gap, but also fully fund schools, health care, affordable housing and more.
Several recently elected assembly members, including Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, Emily Gallagher, Zohran Mamdani and Marcela Mitaynes are backing the legislative package.
“We have a fundamental choice to make. We could stand by and watch as our public services are decimated, worsening the crisis and foreclosing the possibility of a real recovery,” Gallagher said, “or we could make millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share and invest in the common good.”
“It is time to tax the rich and bring long-term relief to our neighbors who suffered before COVID-19, are suffering now and will continue to suffer from its long-term implications after this if we do not act swiftly and bodly,” added Gonzalez-Rojas.
The coalition’s campaign to pass the legislative package will be led by Rebecca Bailin, former political director of the Riders Alliance. Bailin successfully led the push to pass congestion pricing and Fair Fares, the city’s program to provide discount MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers.
She most recently served as the deputy campaigns director for City Hall, where she organized efforts for the city’s Test & Trace program.
“Countless New Yorkers not only need help to survive this crisis,” Bailin said, “they’re also ready to fight for a vision that allows us to thrive.”