President's Message: Our Revenue System Is Failing Us

If ever we needed proof that New York’s revenue system is unfair and unreliable, it is this year. The stock market is booming and has been for years; unemployment is almost as low as it gets; taxes have been cut and capped at every level of government; and the overall economy is humming with the longest bull market in its history. We should be in a healthy budget year but our revenue structure - which has always failed us during the bad times – is so broken that it is now failing us during the good times.

We are in a nearly $6 billion dollar deficit. To close that gap the state is looking at steep cuts in Medicaid, underfunding our schools and local governments keeping the state at a 2% cap that is killing services. Meanwhile we continue to have historic wealth disparity while communities deal with severe budget and socioeconomic problems. Even when the economy is in recession or performing poorly, it is wrong to slash programs that help working families and those who are most needy. To be faced with these types of choices during one of the greatest periods of wealth in our history is inexcusable. We need to do better for our seniors, our children, those who are sick and those who need care. We need to do better for New York’s working families who are not sharing in the economic growth that seems to always flow up, but never down. We need to do more.

New York needs to look at wealth taxes more closely and consider the billionaires tax and multi-millionaires’ tax, a stock buyback tax, the pied-a-tere tax or reinstating the banks tax. These are just some of the revenue raisers that would affect a tiny portion of individuals or businesses in our state but will help close the deficit without hurting our health care system and still help fund education, state services and our local governments. Poll after poll shows public support for these taxes. Now is the time to act.

Mario Cilento, President