Shared from the 12/18/2018 Albany Times Union eEdition


When the wealthy pay a fair share, New York gets stronger

New York is one of the wealthiest states in the nation. But instead of economic fairness, many of our state government policies benefit billionaires and the super-rich, while the vast majority of taxpayers, who are not in this rarified class, are left to pick up the tab.

At the same time, wealth inequality is obscured by the politics of fear, resentment, hate and division, which attempt to divide us along ethnic, racial, and gender lines, rural vs. suburban vs. city, upstate vs. downstate, red versus blue.

New York has an opportunity starting in 2019 to forge a new and better way forward — one that firmly rejects the politics of manufactured scarcity and instead embraces a politics of shared abundance.

Together as one state we need a new budgeting approach that enables all New Yorkers to thrive, not just the few.

It’s time to invest in a bottom-up growth strategy to help those left behind. This means investment in poverty alleviation; fairly and fully funding our child care and elder care, public schools, colleges and universities; housing people who are homeless; providing health care for all; feeding people who are hungry; lifting up people with disabilities; and ensuring a fair criminal justice system for all New Yorkers.

To make our tax systems fairer, we need to adjust our income tax brackets to reflect the explosion of wealth at the very top. We should expand our current “millionaires tax” and keep the stock transfer tax. We need to ensure Wall Street pays its fair share by closing the carried interest tax loophole and passing a stock buyback recapture tax on huge corporations that pass their federal tax breaks to the wealthy instead of creating jobs and raising pay.

Fairer taxation at the very top would help fix a broken state and local tax system that forces people to pay higher property taxes and rent to support municipal costs that should be more fully assumed by the state.

Austerity was never a good approach to meeting the needs of regular New Yorkers — and now it’s stretched beyond the limits of reason.

State government leaders have continued to impose a 2 percent annual state spending growth cap even as the incomes of the very wealthy have soared and the needs of people who are poor, the middle class, and paycheck earners have exploded. The spending cap needs to be lifted and increased costs need to be borne by Wall Street, large corporations, and the very rich — not farmers and child-care providers, not rural and urban school districts, not working- and middle-class property owners, not paycheck earners and not people who are poor.

We urge the state to take very aggressive steps on climate change by passing holistic legislation toward building a 100 percent clean energy economy by as soon as 2030, with a “Green New Deal” to make comprehensive investments in clean energy infrastructure; affordable, clean and lead-free housing; and communities that have been disproportionately affected by various forms of environmental degradation.

We need serious campaign finance reforms and economic development accountability measures to rebuild public trust in our government, including a small-donor matching funds system that puts people back at the center of our politics; voting rights reforms and economic development accountability measures that give New Yorkers the assurance that Albany works for them.

Now is not the time for timidity. Now is the time for our elected officials to take a bold new approach that benefits all New Yorkers and ensures no one in our state is left behind.

Peter Cook is executive director of the New York State Council of Churches. The Rev. Elizabeth Quick is pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Gouverneur.

See this article in the e-Edition Here
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