ALBANY, N.Y. -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo's $142 billion budget proposal would cut taxes over the next several years by $2.2 billion. For fiscal watchdogs, one tax cut in particular stands out: a gradual eliminate of the estate tax, something most states don't have.
"The consensus in most states is we're not going to have one and that includes California. This is not just the old Florida-Texas comparison," said EJ McMahon, of the Empire Center For NYS Policy.
A report from the Empire Center released Monday made the argument for ending the estate tax, a proposal that Cuomo supports, saying that it forces people, especially the elderly, to the flee the state. The report found middle-income New Yorkers are impacted by the tax.
"The estate doesn't just hit the so-called super rich. It hits a lot of people who have a million dollars in assets, but undoubtedly think of themselves as middle class including farmers and small business owners whose incomes don't even approach a million dollars," McMahon said.
But advocates for increasing taxes this year disagree, and point to the growing income inequality in the state as well as recent budget cuts as a sign the state needs to do more to help the poor.
"A billion dollars in tax cuts he's proposing to millionaires, billionaires and Wall Street banks should not stand. We cannot afford them right now," said Ron Deutsch, of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness.
Deutsch says Cuomo's budget is a long-term giveaway to the very people who should be helping shore up the state budget.
"You can't possibly justify giving tax cuts through the estate tax or through the removal of the dedicated bank tax to some of the wealthiest people in our state," Deutsch said.
Cuomo has long shrugged off critics from the right and the left who have pressured him on budget issues.
"Those are the polar extremes. They've always been the polar extremes. You have the conservatives on one side and the liberals on the other and their response is sort of predictable," Cuomo said.
But the question does remain as to how the $2 billion tax-cut package will be paid for in the long-term. A budget analysis from Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office found it will be difficult to achieve Cuomo's planned surpluses in the coming years if future spending cuts aren't found.