The Senate Republicans’ second-ranking member said he’s still opposed to extending an income tax surcharge on the state’s highest earners, but didn’t rule out changing his mind if hydrofracking is held off and his flood-ravaged district needs revenue.
Deputy Majority Leader Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton, appeared today on Fred Dicker’s radio show on Talk 1300 AM in Albany, where he said that he’s against the tax “right now.”
When pressed by Dicker on whether he was using the phrase as a qualifier, Libous said that his district — which includes all of Broome and Tioga counties and part of Chenango — is still picking up the pieces from record flooding caused by the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee and may need revenue.
“Politics is always a moving target and I’m not going to pretend,” Libous said. “I’ve been against it; I was against it last year and I’m still against it. But I’ve got a hurting community, and if my community needs revenue I’m going to have to make decisions that are out of the box for me.”
“I’m saying that if my community that is ravaged right now cannot get natural gas drilling, cannot get what it needs, then the possibility would be to look at any option available,” he continued. “But right now I’m not supporting it.”
The surcharge, which was placed on those making more than
$250,000 $200,000 annually and is set to expire at the end of the year, has been at the center of debate in Albany for months. Cuomo has consistently opposed extending the tax, though he favors a similar charge on the federal level.
Both a coalition of left-leaning groups and the president of the Public Employees Federation yesterday separately renewed their calls to extend the tax, which has seen renewed interest since the launch of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has latched on to a disdain for corporate greed.
Libous said he believe the surcharge will be a major issue at the Capitol next year. The Legislature is set to return to Albany in January, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has made clear that he will be making a strong push for the tax to be extended on those making $1 million annually.