Cuomo’s Tax “Reform” Commission Spells Trouble

No one really likes paying taxes and the current tax system certainly needs reform. Primarily, the tax system should return to being more progressive, i.e., tax rates should increase with income. Low income people should have low taxes and high income people should have high taxes with a graduated scale in between. That’s fair.

The current hegemonic anti-tax ideology is a formidable barrier to fair tax reform.

Now, Governor Cuomo, planning for his reelection campaign in 2014 has appointed a “tax commission” to recommend tax cuts of $2 to $3 billion over the few years. Cuomo presents this as a bi-partisan project that will demonstrate that Republicans and Democrats can work together and reduce taxes in NY to promote economic development and  job growth. We can look forward to tax policies that give major tax breaks to corporations that set up operations near universities.

Bill de Blasio, likely to be the next Mayor of NY City plans to raise taxes on the wealthy to help achieve his goal of reducing inequality in our most important city. Will he face opposition from Cuomo’s commission?

Progressive tax reform is the last thing we can expect from this commission. But we cannot afford to ignore it’s work. We must be prepared to oppose the tax cuts that will harm the citizens of New York.

Commission Members

Here is a list of the members of this commission. The descriptions of these members are copied from various organization web pages, media, and wikipedia found by by searching on their names. Notice the corporate links for almost all of the commission members.

George Pataki: former governor – Chadbourne & Parke, LLP – Governor George Pataki’s practice focuses on energy, environmental and corporate matters. Prior to joining Chadbourne & Parke LLP, he served three terms as the 53rd governor of New York state, from 1995 through 2006. First elected in 1994, he won re-election in 1998 and 2002. Governor Pataki brings to Chadbourne broad experience in law and public service. He was a partner in the New York law firm of Plunkett & Jaffe until 1987. He was elected mayor of Peekskill, New York in 1981, and served in the New York State Legislature as an assemblyman and then a senator from 1985 to 1994, before becoming governor. During his tenure as New York’s chief executive, Governor Pataki advanced award-winning, cutting-edge policies in the renewable energy and environmental fields. His initiatives included the protection of over one million acres of open space, the adoption of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the implementation of the nation’s first green building tax credit, landmark brownfield legislation and programs to enhance the production and use of alternative energy like biodiesel, ethanol, fuel cells and clean coal.Pataki profile at NNDB

Carl McCall: former comptroller and gov. candidate – Mr. McCall served as Comptroller of the State of New York from May 1993 to December 2002.  As Chief Fiscal Officer of the State, he was responsible for governmental and financial oversight and pension fund management.  As sole Trustee of the 880,000-member State and Local Retirement Systems, Mr. McCall was responsible for investing a pension fund valued at $120 billion. Mr. McCall has had a distinguished career as a public servant.  He served three terms as a New York State Senator representing the upper Manhattan district of New York City; as an Ambassador to the United Nations; as a Commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; and as the Commissioner of the New York State Division of Human Rights. H. Carl McCall was appointed Chairman of the State University of New York Board of Trustees October 17, 2011. He first joined the Board as a member on October 22, 2007. Mr. McCall has been a passionate advocate for public education.  He served as President of the New York City Board of Education from 1991 – 1993, where he set policy for the largest school system in the nation and as the Chairman of the Public Higher Education Conference Board, a coalition of 14 member organization which supports a strong and vibrant public higher education system in New York State. He has also been active in the private sector; he served as a Vice President of Citibank and as Corporate Director of the New York Stock Exchange, Tyco International, New Plan Realty Corporation and presently Ariel Investment. He was educated at Dartmouth College, Andover Newton Theological Seminary and the University of Edinburgh.  He is the recipient of nine honorary degrees.

Denis Hughes: former president AFL-CIO NY – Chairman (formerly acting chairman and Deputy Chair) and Class C director of the New York Federal Reserve Board, as well as President of the 2.5 million member New York State AFL-CIO. In 2003, Hughes was elected to the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and currently serves as Chair of the Management and Budget Committee, and is a member of the Audit Committee of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.He joined the New York State AFL-CIO staff in 1985 as a political director, and in February 1990, was appointed to the position of executive assistant to the president. In this capacity, Mr. Hughes acted as a union lobbyist within the federation. Mr. Hughes was elected president of the New York State AFL-CIO 1999.

Heather Briccetti: president & CEO of Business Council of New York State – Prior to joining The Business Council, Briccetti was a consultant and lobbyist for Powers and Company, where she advised clients on a range of state and federal government relation issues. While she was there, Briccetti finished the Javits Center expansion and the new Yankee Stadium park. Before joining Powers and Company, Briccetti served as an assistant counsel to the New York State Senate Majority, working on a range of issues, including economic development, budget reform and consumer protection. She also worked for the Assembly Majority for several years, serving as a legislative aide and counsel to the Racing and Wagering Committee.

Dall W. Forsythe: Professor of Practice, Wagner School of Public Service, New York University; former Professor, School of Public Affairs at Baruch College/CUNY; former Chief Administrative Officer of the Episcopal Diocese of New York; former Budget Director of New York State; and former Managing Director of Lehman Brothers. Mr. Dall W. Forsythe serves as Vice President of Finance and Operations at Atlantic Philanthropies. Mr. Forsythe was a Professor of practice teaching financial management at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service. He served as the Managing Director in Lehman Brothers’ public finance department. He has extensive management experience in the governmental, private and not-for-profit sectors. In government, he served as a Budget Director for the State of New York and for the New York City Board of Education. In the nonprofit sector, he served as the Chief Administrative Officer of the Episcopal Diocese of New York for four years. Mr. Forsythe has been a Board member of Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board since October 2011. He serves as a Member of Strategic Advisory Board at Blue Wolf Capital Partners LLC. He teaches governmental and non-profit financial management at New York University. He taught at Baruch College, the Kennedy School at Harvard, and Columbia University. He serves as the chairs the board of the Fund for the City of New York and has served on the Audit Committee of the City of New York and the board of the Municipal Assistance Corp. Mr. Forsythe’s current research interests center on the finances of New York City and New York State.

News about the commission

Associated Press. 2013. “Gov. Andrew Cuomo Taps George Pataki, Carl McCall for Tax-cutting Task Force.” The Post-Standard – syracuse.com. Retrieved October 3, 2013. Go to story

Campbell, Jon. 2013. “Where Do Lawmakers Stand on Commission?” Retrieved October 3, 2013. Go to story

Lovett, Kenneth. 2013. “Gov. Cuomo Tax Cut Commission Could Clash with Bill de Blasio’s Plan to Raise Hikes If Elected Mayor.” NY Daily News. Retrieved October 3, 2013. Go to story

Spector, Joseph. 2013. “Pataki, McCall, Union and Business Leaders to Serve on Cuomo Tax-cutting Commission.” Politics on the Hudson. Retrieved October 3, 2013. Go to story

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