At a time when even many Republicans are backing away from Grover Norquist’s famous “no new taxes” pledge, New York’s Democratic governor firmly rejected the idea of raising income tax rates to help pay for Hurricane Sandy response.
Instead, Cuomo wants the Federal government to pick up the tab, to the tune of roughly $41 billion.
“I understand the fiscal pressures that Washington is under,” said Cuomo. “I also understand the fiscal pressure that New York is under.”
This follows, of course, Cuomo’s past hostility to raising income taxes, and builds on his successful effort to pass a property tax cap for local governments.
But here’s the wrinkle. While the governor has followed a hard line on state tax revenues, he’s also been cheerful about asking other government entities — and other taxpayers — to pick up the tab for things that he wants done.
Yes, he pushed through the property tax cap.
But counties and school districts still struggle under hundreds of unfunded state mandates that Albany dictates to local governments,
Those mandates make us do all kinds of incredibly expensive things — from medical care to education programs for kids with disabilities.
Because the state has been shrinking its share of support for those programs, many local taxing entities have been forced to blow by the 2% tax cap.
Cuomo gets to claim the mantle of tax-fighter, but citizens still wind up paying far more taxes, with more and more of the bill going to low income property owners who can least afford it.
Now we’re seeing the same thing again with Sandy. The governor says no to hiking taxes to pick up at least part of the tab for the
recovery effort. But the buck has to stop (or in this case, come from) somewhere.
New York state is one of the wealthiest states in America, per capita, and New York City is one of the wealthiest cities in the world.
Surely it makes sense for us to at least talk about paying for some part of our own rebuilding effort?
Of course, if Cuomo does one day seek higher office — the presidency, say — it will look better on his resume if he never raised taxes while serving as governor. At least that’s the old political calculus.
But I suspect that Cuomo’s tough line on taxes will only carry him so far. In the post-Bush era, voters are increasingly leery of politicians who try to do big things without showing the math for how they plan to pay for it.
Cuomo will have to demonstrate that he’s able to solve serious problems without merely passing the costly burdens of government to other entities, jurisdictions and taxpayers.