The coronavirus pandemic has damaged New York state’s ability to provide fair funding to the State University of New York. As such, it is more important than ever for state officials to pursue other revenue raisers to fund public education in New York, including SUNY.
There are options available that could raise as much as $23 billion annually, without causing a detrimental impact to the state’s economy. United University Professions supports four such alternatives: enacting new taxes on ultra-millionaires and billionaires, a pied-a-terre tax, and reducing or eliminating the stock transfer tax.
Most New Yorkers support new taxes on ultra-millionaires and billionaires, and are for imposing a new tax on luxury, multimillion-dollar second homes. A February poll, even before the worst of the pandemic hit our economy, done by the Washington, D.C.-based Hart Research Associates found that 92 percent of respondents favored a tax increase for billionaires and ultra-millionaires, and a pied-a-terre tax on opulent second homes and apartments in New York City with an assessed value over $5 million.
The survey, released by unions across New York—including UUP—echoes a January Data for Progress survey that said New Yorkers backed a “wide range of tax increases,” including an ultra-millionaires’ tax, a wealth tax and a pied-a-terre tax. Other independent budget groups—such as the Fiscal Policy Institute—have highlighted a stock transfer tax as viable option to capture revenue without affecting New York’s economy.
New York has a history of raising taxes on the wealthy during economic downturns:
- During the Great Depression, Gov. Herbert Lehman raised taxes on the wealthy by 2 percent.
- Gov. Nelson Rockefeller raised taxes by 3 percent during the “Eisenhower Recession” of 1958-1959, and 4.9 percent during the 1961 recession.
- Legislators levied a 1.1. percent tax on the wealthy during the post-9/11 recession, overriding vetoes by Gov. George Pataki.
- During the Great Recession, Gov. David Paterson instituted the state’s first Millionaire’s Tax in 2009, raising taxes on the rich by 1.1 percent.
Most experts concur that investing in higher education and in tomorrow’s leaders creates jobs today. University research paves the way for innovations to drive our industries and allows our students to graduate with less student debt—freeing them to be entrepreneurs and providing them with more income to support local businesses and our upstate communities.
UUP supports the creation of new sources of revenue to fund SUNY and CUNY and to reverse a decade of disinvestment in public higher education. These sources include:
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