Although long past its deadline, New York State passed its $212 billion state budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year last month. Like any colossal piece of legislation, it takes some time to dig through …
Although long past its deadline, New York State passed its $212 billion state budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year last month. Like any colossal piece of legislation, it takes some time to dig through all of the details to truly see the good and the bad.
There are many good things included in the budget that will help New Yorkers after a year defined by pandemic and lockdowns. Officials from the governor's office say the final budget accomplishes major legislative priorities, including a record $29.5 billion in aid to schools, $29 billion in public and private green economy investments, $2.4 billion for rent and homeowner relief and $2.4 billion for child care.
Furthermore, the budget ensures that additional Federal Aid will supplement, and not supplant State funding. It also prevents continuing tuition increases at SUNY and CUNY by putting in place a three-year freeze on the rational tuition plan while restoring some state aid. The budget also makes historic investments in one of the biggest state infrastructure initiatives in the country.
With all of these investments in what many people would agree are worthwhile initiatives, it's no wonder that New Yorkers pay so much in taxes. It's a good thing that the state is looking for other ways to create revenue. The legalization of mobile sports betting and adult-use recreational marijuana will create revenue and jobs - albeit at the risk of misuse or abuse.
But New York State should not be raising taxes while receiving Federal Aid, opening up new streams of revenue and having received better-than-expected tax receipts during the past fiscal year. The 2021-2022 State Budget increases the current top state personal income tax rate of 8.82 percent rate to 9.65 percent for individual filers whose income is over $1 million and joint filers over $2 million.
There is an argument to be made that wealthier citizens should pay more of their fair share to support programs addressing education, infrastructure, healthcare, broadband and the environment. Opponents argue with equal conviction that what the state is doing will push companies and higher-income families out of the city, which will cost us tax revenue and jobs in the long run.
Either way, something must be done to address the declining population of New York State. According to recent census data, the Empire State's population fell by 126,355 between July 1, 2019 and July 1, 2020. No other state in the United States of America lost more residents overall or a greater percentage of their residents. From 2010 to 2019, New York lost more than one million people on net.
With a total tax burden of 12.79 percent, New York ranks as the highest taxed state in the Country. Governor Andrew Cuomo, please find ways to reduce our taxes, not raise them. A declining population will only mean higher taxes on everyone to support ambitious economic and social programs. It's a vicious cycle no one can afford.
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