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New taxes and fees in governor's budget irks Republicans

Posted by Karen DeWitt on

The leader of the Senate Republicans says he’s not happy with what he says is over $800 million dollars in new taxes and fees tucked away in Governor Cuomo’s new state budget.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan says he’s upset over about new fees proposed in Governor Cuomo’s budget that a preliminary analysis shows totals $803 million dollars, $250 million dollars in new Department of Motor Vehicles fees alone. Flanagan says he’s also not happy with the way Cuomo presented his spending plan to lawmakers. He says in a private briefing at the executive mansion, Cuomo failed to mention the all of the new fees.

“I’m not going to dance around it, I was very surprised,” said Flanagan.” When you tell me there’s basically nothing and then there’s $250 million dollars in fees, that’s important for the public to know.”

The fees and other revenue raisers include increases for motor vehicle titles for cars and trucks, capping STAR property tax rebates, and new taxes on e- cigarettes. Flanagan says those new taxes and fees will balloon to $4.5 billion dollars a year in the 2020- 2021 fiscal year.

A spokesman for Governor Cuomo says the Senate’s numbers are misleading. Spokesman Rich Azzopardi says the $803 million includes the extension of the so-called millionaires’ tax, which is worth just under $700 million dollars.  A top tax rate of 8% would continue, instead of being reduced to around 6% later this year.

“The Senate Republicans’ ‘new tax’ is an extension of the millionaires' tax and they’re saying they would rather give a tax break to millionaires than a tax cut to the middle class and increase education funding,” he said. “ We say New York’s children and middle-class matter and should come before the Senate Republicans’ millionaires.”  

Governor Cuomo gave three speeches in Plattsburgh, Syracuse and Niagara Falls. He did not take any questions but repeated large portions of his State of the State and budget messages, including his call for the extension of the tax on the rich. Cuomo says it would finance middle-class tax cuts approved by the governor and legislature last year, and to help pay for a billion dollar increase in school aid.

“I want to extend that tax so the millionaire tax rate doesn’t drop and use that money in part to fund the middle-class tax cut,” Cuomo said in Syracuse.

Senator Flanagan says he realizes that the governor will expect Senators to come up with alternative ways to cut costs if they ultimately reject any of the new taxes and fees, including the millionaires’ tax. He says the Senate may have some ideas in its one-house budget plan, to be released in a few weeks. 

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