ALBANY, N.Y. February 10, 2009 - New York State United Teachers today praised five state Democratic senators for introducing legislation that would restore fairness to the income tax code while raising $6 billion to help New York avoid devastating cuts to public education and health care.
"If the choice is between increasing class sizes, cutting programs and laying off teachers, or asking the wealthiest New Yorkers to pay their fair share, the answer is clear," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "It makes more sense to make our income tax rates more progressive so middle-class families can avoid the deep and painful cuts the proposed state budget would impose."
NYSUT Executive Vice President Alan B. Lubin thanked the five Democratic senators - Eric Schneiderman, Neil Breslin, Bill Perkins, Antoine Thompson and Liz Krueger - for proposing a tax reform package that would bring in $6 billion in new revenue to help erase the state's $15 billion budget deficit.
Lubin noted that NYSUT today launched a $1.5 million media campaign - including television, radio and movie theater ads - calling on Albany to ask wealthy taxpayers to pay their fair share.
Lubin explained that New York, since 1976, has reduced income taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers from 15.375 percent to 6.85 percent, well below New Jersey's top rate of 8.97 percent. Tax cuts since 1994 alone are reducing state revenues by $8 billion a year, he said.
"The most affluent New Yorkers have raked in the lion's share of the tax cuts over the last three decades," Lubin said. "With New York facing a financial emergency - and education, health care and other vital public services on the chopping block - it's time for those earning more than $250,000 to pay a little more."
Lubin said there is no evidence that higher income taxes trigger an exodus by the wealthy to other states. On the contrary, a Princeton University study showed that after New Jersey raised the tax rate on those earning $500,000 or more, the number of half-millionaires grew by 70 percent. "It's a complete fallacy that a small increase in the top income tax rate will lead affluent people to pull up roots, sell their homes, leave their friends and family and quit their jobs – jobs where they are earning considerably more than anybody else," Lubin said. "It just doesn't happen that way."
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents more than 600,000 classroom teachers and other school employees; faculty and other professionals at the state's community colleges, State University of New York and City University of New York, and other education and health professionals. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.