2011-10-26 / Features

Gianaris Discusses Budget Cuts, Tax, Science Campus At Bd. 1


“Let’s make those who can totally afford to pay a little bit more so we don’t have to cut services for people.” “Let’s make those who can totally afford to pay a little bit more so we don’t have to cut services for people.” New York state faces a projected budget deficit of $2.4 billion next year and after closing a gap of $10 billion, largely through cuts to health care and education, the question raised at the October meeting of Community Board 1 was how the state will handle the deficit this year.

State Senator Michael Gianaris, the guest speaker, answered with a question of his own. “How many people make a million dollars here?” he asked in reference to a proposed “millionaire’s tax” on the state’s highest income earners. “Let’s make those who can totally afford to pay a little bit more so we don’t have to cut services for people.”

A poll, conducted by Siena College from October 10 to 12 and released on October 17, reported that 72 percent of registered voters in New York state support increasing taxes on New Yorkers earning over $1 million per year. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver cited the Siena poll in reference to the current income tax surcharge that will expire December 31. In an October 17 press release, Silver said he supports continuing the tax for those with incomes over $1 million. Currently, the surcharge applies to income over $200,000 for individuals and $300,000 for married couples.

Silver estimates that continuing the surcharge on those earning over $1 million for one year would give the state an additional $4 billion, with $2.8 billion coming in the next fiscal year, starting Apr. 1, 2012. In an October 18 New York Times report, Silver said his view concerning next year’s budget was to tell Governor Andrew Cuomo, “We’re not making more cuts.”

Cuomo said a millionaire’s income tax surcharge would place New Yorkers at a competitive disadvantage with neighboring states in the October 18 report.

Concerning the possibility of an applied sciences and engineering campus on Roosevelt Island, Gianaris said it was “potentially a boon” for us in Western Queens, if we can get it, especially with the economy in as poor shape as it is”. Bids are due from schools, including Cornell and Stanford Universities, by October 28 and a selection decision has been promised by the city by the end of the year.

In connection with one in a number of groping incidents, this one occurring early on October 18 at Broadway and 31st Street, Gianaris said police had taken an individual into custody but the victim had already left the scene, perhaps to go to work. “We need her to come forward,” he said. Noting a rash of such incidents, Gianaris said the frequency was disturbing. “We are anxious to put an end to this,” he said.

Gianaris said he and other community representatives are objecting to a proposed power plant by U.S. Power Generating Corp. on 20th Avenue along Shore Boulevard because the new facility would increase emissions. “We’re going to be steadfast and maintain the position we’ve had for cleaner air,” he said.

The board also approved its capital and expense budget recommendations for Fiscal Year 2013.

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