10:39 am Oct. 11, 2012
Michael Kink, an advocate for progressive taxation and increased government spending, hammered Council Speaker Christine Quinn yesterday for her cautious positioning on the question of taxing high-income earners.
“If she’s running away from the issue . . . it’s a serious problem,” he told the Daily News' Erin Durkin. “It’s not a smart move for someone who wants to be mayor."
But shortly after making those statements, Kink, the executive director for the labor-backed Strong Economy for All coalition, told me he thought Quinn deserved more time to make up her mind.
"I don't think you can hammer her for that," he said, referring to the idea that the speaker has flip-flopped by backing away from the specifics of a tax-the-rich plan she proposed in 2009. "And I don't think people should."
"It's probably not smart to play gotcha with all this stuff," he said. "It's more important for the speaker to come out with a solid proposal, both for the 2013 budget and for her vision as mayor, if she and when she announces, then it is for any particular day's news cycle."
Quinn told reporters the other day that her 2009 support for a tax increase on those making $300,000 or more annually was in response to a particular fiscal problem which no longer applies today, since Albany changed the state's tax structure and the city's economy is somewhat different now.
But overall, Quinn said, she was leaving the door open to raising taxes on the rich.
"Now if we had to raise any taxes, having taken prop taxes off the table—any ones we would have to go to Albany for—I'll make that decision of what to advocate or not for once we get into the budget process," she said in response to a question from a NY1 reporter. "Obviously what I would be supportive of would be progressive taxes."
"It is reasonable to say 'my 2009 plan is not gonna be the same as my 2013 plan,'" Kink told me. "It's reasonable to say I'm going to focus on a consumption tax on luxury goods and I'm willing to look at PIT [Personal Income Tax] but I want to reflect the needs of government when we look at the next budget or two. That's also very reasonable. You can construct a reasonable plan out of those statements."
When I asked whether a "reasonable plan" would require an increase in the personal income tax for high earners, Kink said it was "probably essential."
"When you're looking at the bracket for the city personal income tax, absolutely, if you want there to be a progressive and reality based tax-system in New York, you want to adjust some of those top bundles because you got not just millionaires, but decamillionaires, and hundredmillionaires, and billionaires, right?" he said "You want to adjust PIT rates, that's probably essential."