Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Urges Gov. Cuomo To Pass Tax On NY's Billionaires

Screengrab / Good Morning America / YouTube

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The wealth-tax would go toward those ineligible for unemployment benefits or federal relief measures.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a New York Democrat that is part of a movement called the Fund Excluded Workers, which is pushing Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to tax billionaires in the state and use the money to aid coronavirus-related efforts, according to a report by Fox Business.

The bill was sponsored by Jessica Ramos, a state senator from Queens, and would raise an expected $5.5 billion in revenue from the state’s 118 billionaires. The worth of billionaires is estimated to be around $566.4 billion.

The money from the taxation would go toward workers that are ineligible for unemployment benefits or federal relief measures.

Right now, more than 1 million New York residents are not eligible for the aid provided by the $2.2 trillion CARES Act which was a federal relief package passed in March. About 801,000 of those excluded are undocumented immigrants.

"We need you to pass a billionaire's tax, in order to make sure that we're providing for our working families,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “It's time to stop protecting billionaires, and it's time to start working for working families.”

In addition to Ramos and Ocasio-Cortez, others urging Cuomo to pass the legislation include two assembly members, Carmen De La Rosa and Yuh-Line Niou, and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

However, Cuomo has a history of opposing measures that would raise taxes on the wealthy, arguing that taxing high earners could drive them out of the state.

The governor’s budget director, Robert Mujica, reiterated Cuomo’s stance and reminded others that New York already has one of the highest tax rates in the US for the wealthy. He stated that the only way to ensure that billionaires in the state pay more is if Congress were to enact a wealth tax federally.

“It’s interesting when you have people elected to Congress pushing for state action when they can’t get action in Congress,” Mujica said. “It’s absolutely necessary for the federal government to step up and provide the support we need.”

The proposal is also expected to face criticism from business leaders and Republicans.

New York estimates that it needs over $10 billion in order to avoid cuts to education, health care, and public safety. The state legislature is set to regroup on Monday to address questions such as the 2020 budget shortfalls.

Read the full report here.

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