ALBANY -- In a major break with his colleagues, a Republican state senator said Wednesday he will introduce a bill to extend an income-tax surcharge on high-earning New Yorkers -- signaling growing opposition to Democrat Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's plan to kill the so-called millionaires' tax.
Significantly, Sen. John Bonacic (R-Mount Hope) said his measure would change the threshold so that the surcharge would apply only to those making $1 million or more annually. Despite its moniker, the "millionaires' tax" currently applies to individuals earning $200,000 or more annually, and families earning $300,000. Bonacic said that without an extension too many school districts would suffer under a Cuomo plan that calls for trimming education aid 7 percent to help balance the budget.
"[I] do believe that the current tax rates for individuals and families earning more than $1 million should be continued at its current rate," Bonacic, who represents parts of the Hudson Valley and Catskills, said in a statement. "The simple reality is that schools all over -- including rural schools in my district, are being hit too hard by the governor's budget -- a budget which I generally support."
"I am familiar with the position of not having everyone in my party pleased with everything I do," he said. "However, I believe this is the only reasonable way to address growing property taxes, and the class size issue, which truly does matter to parents."
A Skelos spokesman repeated the leader's opposition.
"We never comment on legislation that we haven't seen, but the consensus of the conference is that the tax should sunset as scheduled and our Senate budget will reflect that," said Skelos spokesman Scott Reif.
A Cuomo spokesman restated the governor's opposition to any extension of the tax.
In contrast, about 70 percent of Democrats in the Senate and Assembly have signed petitions asking Cuomo to continue the tax. Like Bonacic, some Democrats have suggested raising the surcharge threshold as a way to entice the governor and Senate Republicans.