Thursday, March 24, 2011

Millionaire's Tax a Possibility After the Budget

As Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver remained relatively mum on Thursday morning about the possibility of a millionaire's tax in the final budget, it appeared to be officially killed when Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Rockville Centre, emphatically denied its future existence.
This "read my lips" approach from Skelos comes in the wake of a proposal (SB 4171) from Republican Sen. John Bonacic, which would institute a genuine millionaire's tax for the next two years and provide property tax relief, and remarks from two Republican Senators, including local Senator Roy McDonald, suggesting that they were open to the millionaire's tax.
By Thursday afternoon, Michael Veitch, McDonald's spokesman, had clarified the Senator's position. He said McDonald is not currently considering the millionaire's tax as part of the budget or considering the proposal from Sen. Bonacic. He added that this stance was not the product of any internal pressure from the conference that he was aware of and argued that McDonald's position has remained constant.
“He is an open-minded legislator, so it is something he would consider after the budget is done,” said Veitch.
This is a far cry from the rigid stance of Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, who objected to the Bonacic plan in its theoretical stages.
The proposal from Bonacic and the possibility that it might have some Republican support, has drawn the attention of the Alliance for Quality Education, which is a loud supporter of the millionaire's tax.
"Senator Bonacic stepped to the plate and did the right thing by joining the State Assembly in support of millionaires and billionaires paying they fair share to help fund schools, I believe that privately many of his Republican colleagues agree with him," said Billy Easton, the executive director of AQE.
It remains unclear how the Assembly and Senate versions of the budget will rectify their stark disagreement about how to proceed on the millionaire's tax.

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