(The Center Square) – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called out wealthy residents who may reconsider coming back to the Big Apple if they face a higher tax bill.
“To the point about the folks out in the Hamptons, I have to be very clear about this: We do not make decisions based on the wealthy few,” the mayor told reporters Thursday.
With his remarks de Blasio seemed to willingly undercut efforts led by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has pushed for budget cuts instead of a so-called millionaires tax in case a federal COVID-19 stimulus bill fails to fill a $30 billion state budget deficit over the next two years.
New York City, too, faces a steep deficit as leaders there must reconcile a $9 billion shortfall for this fiscal year. Without federal aid, de Blasio has said the city will have to lay off workers.
De Blasio said if the federal government does not provide assistance to state and local governments then state lawmakers should convene in Albany and discuss a tax on affluent New Yorkers.
“Because as we see from the stock market, while everyone else is suffering, the rich are getting richer, and it's time to look that in the face and say, ‘You know what, wealthy New Yorkers can afford to pay a little bit more so that everyone else can make it through this crisis,’” de Blasio said. “That's where this conversation should be centered.”
Cuomo has said the top 1 percent of New Yorkers pay half of the state’s taxes. Forcing them to pay more on top of the city’s tax would make them consider leaving New York City or not come back from their summer homes, he said, especially as COVID-19 has kept many of the city’s amenities closed.
The governor has called on Congress to provide states with $500 billion in unfettered assistance in the next COVID relief bill. He’s also pushing Democrats in Congress to revive the state and local tax exemption that Republicans repealed three years ago.
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, New York’s senior senator, has pushed for the SALT exemption, and earlier this week, it gave Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell the rare opportunity to speak out against a tax cut.
“The Democratic Leader is still refusing to let struggling Americans get another dime unless he gets a massive tax cut for wealthy people in blue states that has nothing to do with the coronavirus,” the Kentucky Republican said on the Senate floor Monday.
De Blasio said those who are questioning whether to return are really just “fair-weather friends,” and those who leave will be replaced by those attracted by the city’s recovery and the jobs that will be created.
Because of that, he added, the city needs to focus on supporting the working class and not the wealthy.
“This city is for New Yorkers,” the mayor said. “This city is for people who live here, work here, fight to make this place better, fight through this crisis. So, there's a lot of New Yorkers who are wealthy, who are true believers in New York City and will stand and fight with us.”