Wealth tax activists forming bread line at Governor’s Mansion

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Car and home insurance costs. (Pictures of Money / Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Activists are gathering outside the Governor’s Mansion in the Capital on Tuesday, simulating a bread line to signal their desire to raise taxes on the ultrawealthy. Their message to Gov. Andrew Cuomo: “Our families are starving because you refuse to tax your billionaire donors.”

The event will be livestreamed at 1:45 p.m. by the nonprofit activist group Make the Road New York. Local Assemblymember Phil Steck will also be present, along with advocacy groups like the Taxi Workers Alliance, VOCAL-NY, Citizen Action of New York, New York Youth Climate Leaders, the Alliance for Quality Education, and the Chinese-American Planning Council.

The Division of the Budget announced that the state is facing a $14 billion deficit for the 2020 fiscal year, and projected a $62 billion deficit by 2024. Cuomo has meanwhile echoed a talking point favored by Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt—that increased taxes will drive the wealthy away from New York altogether.

In his August 3 address, Cuomo explained: “I literally talk to people all day long who are in their Hamptons house who also lived here [in New York City], or in their Hudson Valley house or in their Connecticut weekend house, and I say, ‘You gotta come back, when are you coming back?'”

In response, over 150 hungry New Yorkers are forming a multi-block bread line outside Cuomo’s Albany mansion on Eagle Street. They want him to support tax raises on upper tax brackets, ensuring funds for critical programs—like schools and hospitals—that benefit working-class families. “We’re hungry,” activists say. “Tax billionaires.”

Cuomo has repeatedly stated that without federal funding, he will be forced to enact drastic cuts across the board for education, health care, and local governments, leading to mass layoffs, lack of life-saving services, and learning setbacks for children of all ages across the state.

By some estimates, New York’s billionaires’ collective net worth has risen by several billion more since the coronavirus outbreak began. Meanwhile, millions of jobs have disappeared for average New Yorkers. A study conducted in January seemed to indicate that nine out of every ten New Yorkers supported increasing taxes on the wealthiest even before the coronavirus outbreak.

Several pieces of legislation have been introduced—and ignored by the governor—which could increase New York’s revenues by as much as $35 billion per year.

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