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Socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is calling on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to raise taxes at a time when millions of residents are suffering economically due to pandemic-related job losses.
“I’m calling on Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo to raise revenue to fund universal child-care programs, significantly increase staffing at schools and fund the infrastructure improvements, including ventilation, that our school buildings need to be safe,” the New York congresswoman said in a statement obtained by the New York Post.
She said her call for new taxes comes after discussions with parents and teachers from her district that schools are not yet ready to reopen due to safety concerns.
“It’s clear that there’s significant evidence to suggest that schools are not safe to re-open,” she said. “Poorly ventilated and unsanitized classrooms, ambiguous or ineffective health screening, COVID testing and contact tracing protocols, and severe staffing shortages, on top of COVID cases in at least 55 schools, all indicate we are not ready to re-open.”
Her claim about widespread COVID in district schools is at odds with a new study from Brown University conducted in conjunction with more than 550 schools across 46 states. During a two-week period beginning Aug. 31, the incidence of coronavirus infection among teachers and students was less than 1 percent, the study found.
Meanwhile, Ocasio-Cortez also lambasted de Blasio for stripping $700 million in funding from schools “but cut almost nothing meaningful from NYPD.”
Her call for more taxes comes as she and other Democratic socialists plan to back 35 like-minded candidates in their bid to take over the NYC City Council next year.
It also comes as the state faces a massive budget deficit largely of its own doing after losing billions in tax revenue this year following orders by both de Blasio and Cuomo to shut down “non-essential” businesses, many of which remain shuttered months after the pandemic began to wane.
De Blasio has said in recent weeks that he does not oppose raising taxes on some wealthy New Yorkers, but Cuomo has expressed reservations because he believes it will hasten the exodus out of the city.
Over the summer, New Yorkers — many of them well-to-do — began streaming out of the Big Apple in droves amid spreading virus, economic decline, and spiking crime.
The flight has overwhelmed moving companies in the city, with one CEO, Roadway Moving’s Ross Sapir, telling Fox News last month he’s never seen people leaving the city in such numbers.
“It’s insane … I’ve never seen such growth,” he said. “[Business is] double or triple compared to any other season as far as moving out of the city.”
United Van Lines CEO Marc Rogers told Fox Business Network that the vast majority of people leaving the city — 61 percent — are earning at least $100,000 per year.
Cuomo appears to be cognizant of the dramatic loss in tax revenue, much of it permanent, as he practically begged people to come back to the city during an early August press conference.
“I literally talk to people all day long who are now in their Hamptons house who also lived here, or in their Hudson Valley house or in their Connecticut weekend house, and I say, ‘You gotta come back, when are you coming back?’”
“We’ll go to dinner, I’ll buy you a drink, come over I’ll cook’,” he added.
The Gothamist reported last week that Cuomo believes taxes are already high enough in New York, and wealthy residents already pay a disproportionate amount. Also, he has said that raising them again will only drive more people out of New York City and the state.
New York City alone is facing a $30 billion budget deficit, but it’s not likely raising taxes, even if it’s just on wealthier residents, will close it or entice people to return.
That said, Democrats in neighboring New Jersey approved a “millionaire’s tax,” raising marginal rates to 10.75 percent from 8.97 percent.
In addition, the Nashville City Council has approved a budget that members admit contains a “painful” property tax increase, while Colorado and California are also considering increasing property taxes.
San Francisco lawmakers are also considering a new tax on executive pay.
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