ALBANY – After more than a year of insisting they’d take part in no effort to raise taxes, Senate Republicans were jumping on board this morning with a plan to bring in more than $2.5 billion in income tax levies by taxing rich people in New York.
“For 99.8 percent of New Yorkers, this is a great deal,’’ Sen. Thomas Libous, the deputy majority leader, said this afternoon about the $700 million in tax breaks for people making between $40,000 and $300,000.
“Middle class families. That’s what I’m here for," said the Binghamton Republican.
The Occupy Wall Street movement has promoted, among other things, raising taxes on the top 1 percent of income earners, and their chants from lower Manhattan to Albany to Buffalo have often included “We are the 99 percent.’’
For a couple making $50,000 a year, the tax break will be worth about $200 in the 2012 tax year.
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republican, had an interesting spin when asked about past vows that the Senate would not hike taxes: “We’re cutting taxes. Maybe (Assembly Speaker) Shelly Silver is raising taxes, but we’re cutting taxes."
The Legislature’s top Republican made the comments to a few reporters outside his office as GOP lawmakers were getting ready to eat a catered lunch and discuss the specifics of the bills they will pass this afternoon.
The focus, Skelos said, should be on the tax cuts for moderate income families, as well as special tax breaks on a payroll tax on downstate businesses. He noted the deal is also supported by all the major business lobby groups. “The job creators are telling us this is the right way to go,’’ he said.
As for hallway chatter that the Legislature may have sought to include a deal on redistricting – the process of re-drawing all legislative and congressional district lines – Skelos said there were no such agreements.
“That’s a question you’ve asked, and I say this in a nice way, for the last eight months on anything that’s occurred, and there’s no deal on redistricting," Skelos said.
--- Tom Precious