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NY pols: Senate GOP tax bill will hurt LI taxpayers

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) speaks

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) speaks to reporters as he walks with Senate Minority Whip Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), right, at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Friday, Dec. 1, 2017. Credit: Getty Images / Alex Wong

New York representatives and Long Island home and business organizations decried the tax bill passed by Senate Republicans early Saturday morning, arguing that it will financially hurt Long Island taxpayers who would no longer be able to fully write off their property taxes.

The Senate passed the $1.5 trillion tax package just before 2 a.m. by a vote of 51-49, with “no” votes from all Democrats including New York Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

The tax package is the most sweeping overhaul of the tax code in more than 30 years and gives the largest tax cuts to businesses and the wealthy. More modest tax breaks are offered to lower tax brackets.

“In my long career in politics, I have not seen a more regressive piece of legislation, so devoid of a rationale, so ill-suited for the condition of the country, so removed from the reality of what the American people need,” Schumer said on Twitter early Saturday. “Tax reform is an issue that is ripe for bipartisan compromise. There is a sincere desire on this side of the aisle to work with the GOP, particularly on tax reform, but we have been rebuffed, time & time again.”

Schumer, the Senate’s minority leader, and Gillibrand said they received the 500-page tax bill, which included handwritten revisions, only hours before the vote Friday night.

Senate Republicans defeated a proposal by Schumer to postpone a vote until Monday so that senators could take the weekend to review the bill.

“In the middle of the night, Republicans rammed through their atrocious tax scam. We didn’t have time to read the nearly 500 pages of partially handwritten, scribbled notes — unlike the lobbyists who knew what was in the bill before we did,” Gillibrand said on Twitter early Saturday. “The entire ordeal was a deafening blow to our democratic process. This bill was designed to take from everyday Americans and give to wealthy CEOs and corporations.”

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Saturday that the tax bill disproportionately hurts New Yorkers and other Democratic states because states like New York and California were funding tax cuts to the Midwest and in the South.

“The tax plan is going to be devastating for New York as it is for every state where you have middle class and working families, because it is all focused on a tax cut for the rich,” Cuomo said. “To add insult to injury, there are then special provisions that are an assault aimed at the economic heart of New York, California, and other frankly Democratic states, which is the elimination of state and local tax deductibility. It’s complicated, those words, so people haven’t focused on it.”

The Senate bill still must be reconciled with a tax bill passed by the House of Representatives last month. A vote to move the bill to a joint conference committee was moved up to Monday night to reconcile any differences between the House and Senate.

Long Island Reps. Peter King (R-Seaford), Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) and Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) voted against the House bill with bipartisan opposition to a bill that strips the SALT tax deduction of state and local property taxes.

The Long Island Association, the region’s largest business group, estimates Long Island would lose $2.7 billion if the deduction were eliminated.

King said Saturday that he planned to vote against sending the bill to a conference committee to be reconciled and that he would vote against the final bill in its current form. He said it’s unlikely that the property tax deduction would be reintroduced because it was removed in both the House and the Senate versions of the bill.

“It’s a bad bill for New York and it’s a bad bill for Long Island. This is really going to damage New York, Long Island and the Northeast, and empower other parts of the country,” King said. “My intention is to vote against sending it to committee. I’d rather it die than it be enacted.”

King said Long Island already contributes $23 billion in taxes to the rest of the country and gets back less than what it contributes.

The National Association of Home Builders and the Long Island Association said economists have estimated a 10 to 20 percent drop in home values without property tax deductions.

The tax bill could also reduce school district spending and budgets to avoid raising taxes on homeowners, according to Laureen Harris, president of The Association for a Better Long Island, a $20 billion developer and real estate lobbying group.

“With the passage of this tax legislation, life as we know it is over on Long Island,” Harris said. “If school districts and local government believe it will be business as usual under this tax proposal, they are in for a seismic shock.”

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