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Millionaires’ group asks Cuomo to raise their taxes

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is seen in an undated

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is seen in an undated image. Credit: AP / Mike Groll

ALBANY — A group of more than 40 millionaires has written an open letter to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, asking him to raise taxes on the wealthy to help the state invest more in infrastructure, education and anti-poverty programs.

In the letter released Monday, they said they are “deeply concerned” about struggling New Yorkers and aging infrastructure. They say they have the “ability and the responsibility to pay our fair share.”

Signers included businessman Leo Hindery as well as Steven Rockefeller and Abigail Disney.

“Look, I’ve benefited from being in New York my whole life. I’ve built companies in a fertile business environment, and I’ve enjoyed the quality of life we have here,” said another signer, Lewis Cullman, a businessman and philanthropist who developed At-a-Glance calendars. “I’m very philanthropic, like a lot of my peers, but there are many important things that philanthropy just doesn’t do, and can’t do — like pave our streets, build airports, inspect our food, and educate all our children, just to name a few. Those of us in the top 1 percent of incomes have a particular responsibility to contribute to the public sector at a higher marginal tax rate than everyone else.”

The letter-writing effort was organized by the Fiscal Policy Institute, a labor-backed think tank. FPI wants lawmakers to adopt what it calls the “1 percent” plan, which would increase New York’s highest income-tax rate from the current 8.82 percent to 9.99 percent. It also would increase the number of tax brackets and rates, creating a more graduated tax system.

New York’s “millionaire’s tax,” first imposed by Cuomo and lawmakers in 2011, is set to expire at the end of 2017. FPI and its allies don’t want lawmakers to wait until then to act.

But their proposal faces tough odds. The Republican-led Senate opposes the idea and Cuomo hasn’t pushed for renewing tax rates ahead of time. The Democrat-dominated Assembly supports increasing taxes on millionaires.

Cuomo and legislators are trying to settle the 2016-17 budget by April 1, the start of New York’s fiscal year.

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