MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. – A young Democratic New York State Senate candidate held one of his first major policy announcements at the Mount Kisco Public Library on Wednesday afternoon. Justin Wagner, a young Croton attorney, will run for New York State Senator Greg Ball’s seat (R,C,I – District 40) in the Nov. 2012 election.
Wagner specifically discussed the “millionaire’s tax,” which is set to expire at the end of the year. The tax was created in 2009 to temporarily boost income from “high earners.” Recent polls, however, find that a majority of New Yorkers would like to see the tax extended. The “millionaire’s tax” currently applies to individuals making $200,000 per year, and families making $300,000 or more.
“It is fundamentally unfair to cut taxes for millionaires and at the same time expect poor and middle class New Yorkers to do more with less,” said Wagner. “We cannot allow that to happen.” Wagner proposed that if he were in office, he would extend the tax only for individuals making $1 million or more.
Wagner estimates that extending the tax just for individuals who make $1 million or more could generate between $3 and $4 billion in revenue. He said he would like to lower the deficit, but also create an education fund that would help local school districts fund pilot programs. Wagner said unfunded mandates have created an undue burden on school district’s programming which not all can shoulder.
Ball said he opposes extending the tax, which he said would disproportionately affect small business owners. Ball said he supports a comprehensive overhaul of New York State’s tax code, saying that “Extending a tax isn’t going to solve anything. The extension would even more disproportionately hurt small business owners who are trying to create jobs.” He also said the “lower 40 percent pay nothing,” while “the upper percent that hide behind accountants and loopholes on a way that working families cannot.”
New York is facing an estimated $2 billion budget shortfall in the coming fiscal year. A new poll from Siena College shows that of 800 New Yorkers questioned, 72 percent would support extending a tax on New Yorkers who earn more than $1 million per year. The same poll showed 67 percent of those making over $100,000 polled were in favor of the tax, and a majority of Republicans favored the measue. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, however, opposes the extension of the tax, as do many Republicans.
Besides Washington, D.C., the U.S. Census finds that New York has the most significant income inequality in the entire United States.
District 40 is made up of Northern Westchester, including Mount Kisco, Cortlandt, Croton, Peekskill, Yorktown and Bedford, and includes all of Putnam and parts of Dutchess counties.