December 21, 2022

NY Dem Governor Says ‘No’ to Higher Taxes?

Kathy Hochul, fresh off a strong Republican challenge in her gubernatorial race, may be tacking toward the center.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul shocked her Democrat establishment friends last week at a press conference about the state’s 2023 budget when she remarked that she didn’t foresee raising taxes in 2023. She told reporters, “I don’t believe that raising taxes, at a time when we just cut taxes, makes sense.”

Whoa. A newly elected Democrat governor in one of the nation’s bluest states rejecting higher taxes? Yes, it’s hard to believe. But wait, there’s more.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, also a Democrat, was even more direct in his rejection of raising taxes on the city’s wealthiest earners. “To continually attack high-income earners when 51% of our taxes are paid by 2% of New Yorkers — it blows my mind when I hear people say, ‘So what if they leave.’ No, you leave! I want my high-income earners right here in this city!”

Have Hochul and Adams been stricken with a case of common sense? Maybe. Their state has lost a stunning 1.4 million people since 2010, and 300,000 of them since the pandemic alone — a crushing blow to the economy. According to the IRS, New York County, which consists of Manhattan island and the city’s financial district, lost $14.5 billion in adjusted gross income due to people splitting town in 2019 and 2020. The New York City Independent Budget Office determined that the number of taxpayers who earned between $1 million and $5 million dropped 11% in that same period.

It is certainly hard, well-nigh impossible, to maintain a consistent level of public services with the juicy entitlements that Democrats have come to expect when the tax base isn’t there to support it.

As Adams noted, though, some Dems just don’t care. Charles Khan, he of the laughably titled Invest in Our New York campaign, is one of them: “To make sure that we have free, high quality, higher education. To build and fund affordable housing. To make sure we have affordable health care. And to do all of that by making sure that the wealthiest people in New York, who are making more money than they have ever made before, pay what they owe and pay a little bit more in taxes.”

Khan and Democrats in the state legislature are full speed ahead with their plans for expanding services and entitlements, ignoring the state’s current fiscal woes and the shrinking tax base that they expect to fund their cavalcade of vote-buying treats. Hochul is so far resisting the call. The federal stimulus money that helped float the state for two years is all but spent, a national economic downturn is already hurting New York, and the financial industry — the state’s gravy train — is feeling the pinch.

Can Hochul be counted on to hold out against the progressive Left? Perhaps. She may be looking to shift toward the political center after narrowly beating Republican Lee Zeldin in last month’s gubernatorial race. The election reminded her that New York is composed of more than just Manhattan.

Elections do have consequences, but New York’s Democrat government has ignored several opportunities to do the right thing for its citizens in years past. We’ll just have to see how this latest one plays out.

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