Cuomo Must Cut Taxes in New York


Although Governor Cuomo does not want to run for president in 2020, cutting taxes wil still help his popularity. (Courtesy of Flickr)

By Tim Kyle

Although Governor Cuomo does not want to run for president in 2020, cutting taxes will still help his popularity. (Courtesy of Flickr)

As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except for death and taxes.” His statement rings true in New York State, where government spending runs rampant. Though Governor Andrew Cuomo is no longer eyeing a run for president in 2020, he would benefit from considering the damage caused by increasingly onerous state tax rates for the sake of his popularity and for the long-term fiscal health of the state.

New York has a cumulative state and local tax burden of 12.6 percent, the highest in the country, according to Forbes. Leading corporate watchdog Good Jobs First reports that in the last 40 years, the Empire State has shelled out an astounding $34 billion in subsidies, more than any other state. Despite this attempt to lure businesses back to New York, the Tax Foundation rates New York as the worst state to do business in.

These factors combine to create an environment hostile to job growth and an already-bereaved middle class. Unsurprisingly, New York has the highest out-migration rate of any state, losing one million people to other, more business-friendly states since 2010. New York’s population has actually declined since 2015 and has a population growth rate of just .7, the slowest since the Great Depression, according to Newsday.

It’s not just taxes that are the problem; the monolithic bureaucracy and high spending of the state government stifles growth and innovation while providing little in return for the average New Yorker. The “prevailing wage” laws in the state require the government to pay union-negotiated salaries, often much higher than market wage, on all public works projects. This system drives construction costs up by as much as 25 percent in some areas, according to the Empire Center for Public Policy, resulting in billions of dollars of unnecessary government spending. High minimum wage laws discourage hiring, especially in poorer upstate areas.

A number of new, pro-union policies like mandatory disability insurance and paid family leave – the latter of which was signed by Governor Cuomo in 2016 – are further examples of progressive programs that increase state spending and add to the tax burden on New Yorkers, contributing to an anti-business environment.

Cuomo is no longer running for president, but he wants to retain the governorship of New York. It’s a safe bet that he will win the gubernatorial race. His favorability numbers have been on a downward slide since the beginning of the year, especially upstate, where he went from 43-41 approve-disapprove to 37-48 between March and July. Independent voters now also view Cuomo more negatively, according to Quinnipiac.

All this is to say – Cuomo’s tax policies are hurting people, and it’s showing in the polls. It is important that a governor represent their entire state, not just the New York City area. If Cuomo wants to reign in upstate New York, regain his former popularity and definitively block any challenge from Republican Mark Molinaro, he should listen to his constituents and work on cutting taxes and regulations.
How should he do it? It’s simple. Just as on the federal level, the less government interference with business and commerce, the better.

Cuomo should start by cutting government spending. Repealing prevailing wage laws, for example, would save the state government billions on the costs of public works projects by allowing them to more freely negotiate wages instead of being forced to pay an extortionate rate. Cuomo should discontinue corporate welfare and instead create a pro-business climate in the state so growth can occur naturally and allow municipalities and counties to control their own spending instead of holding them to state mandates they can ill afford.

Cutting spending and localizing budget control would decrease the extreme tax burden and make life for the average citizen of New York easier and cheaper. Not only that, but showing concern for the declining quality of life of poorer, upstate residents and the middle class statewide might shore up his flagging poll numbers and ensure him victory in the upcoming election.

The fiscal story of New York is starting to look like that of any number of other progressive-minded states that impose heavy taxes and burdensome regulations, all while expanding the role of government in pursuit of their policies. The moral of this story is the same every time, across the country – people and businesses will relocate to more business-friendly states where there are more plentiful jobs and cheaper living costs spurred by lower taxation.

For the Empire State to become competitive again and for Cuomo to secure his re-election, changes have to be made. You can’t tax people into prosperity, Governor.


Tim Kyle, FCRH ’21, is a political science major from West Hartford, Connecticut.