5:02 pm Dec. 5, 2011
The broad outlines of Andrew Cuomo's imminent proposal to change the state's tax code are now fairly clear: It will be "fair," in a progressive sense, establishing higher tax rates for higher earners, and lower ones for lower earners.
But will the governor's plan be reveue-neutral, as some liberal Democrats like State Senator Liz Krueger fear, leading to more spending cuts to make up an expected $3.5 billion shortfall next year? Or will Cuomo's tax overhaul actually raise money for the government?
"Yes, it has to," Diane Savino, one of four members of the Independent Democratic Conference, told me. "He needs to bring in enough money to meet the commitments that he's made."
According to Savino, Cuomo will have to find additional revenue from this restructuring exercise in order to pay for committments he has made in two areas. First, she said, Cuomo will have to keep his promise to boost education and health care spending by 4 percent over last year's rates. Second, Cuomo will have to pour money into a job-creation program that's being overseen by the governor's new Regional Economic Council.
Savino made it clear to me that she didn't believe he'd go beyond that, and that there was no going back on the cuts Cuomo negotiated in the last budget, which helped close a $10 billion deficit without raising taxes.
"That's all he needs," she said, referring to the money for education, health care and job-creation. "He ain't doing any more. And if people are deluding themselves into thinking he's going to raise enough revenue and then restore everything he cut, they are suffering from delusions. He's not going to do that."
Savino said, "If we went back and just restored everything, he would be the biggest chooch ever. Why go through this?"