Democratic lawmakers and even liberal groups are taking issue with the state budget’s plan to provide $350 rebate checks to families with children in 2014.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, said he also isn’t thrilled with the checks, which will go out right before next year’s election to families with children younger than 17 and with incomes between $40,000 and $300,000.
“I would have preferred to do it a different way, but again the art of compromise required it be done that way,” Silver said of the budget negotiations with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Senate coalition leaders.
Proponents of the rebate check said families with incomes of less than $40,000 were not included in the rebate program because they typically don’t pay income taxes.
But Frank Mauro, executive director of the Fiscal Policy Institute, said there may be as many 400,000 dependents in families who make less than $40,000, based on 2009 state income tax data, the most recent available.
“I don’t think there is a justification for leaving out people under $40,000 if they meet the other criteria,” Mauro said.
Some Democratic lawmakers were also critical of the rebate checks, saying the $350 million for it for each of the next three years should go to other state programs. They pointed to $90 million in cuts planned for services for people with developmental disabilities.
“I think it’s reprehensible that we have this in the budget. I understand it’s a compromise to get more money for our schools and other important items. But it’s political gimmickry at its worst, and I’m embarrassed and ashamed that it’s in this year’s budget,” said Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, Westchester County.
Senate Republicans, who pushed for the tax break, defended the measure and knocked Silver for trying to distance himself from it.
“We’re happy to take credit for providing meaningful tax relief to middle-class families with children, because it was Senate Republicans who introduced it, advocated for it and insisted that it be part of the enacted budget,” said Scott Reif, a Senate GOP spokesman.