Rolled out with much fanfare and an article in The Wall Street Journal this week, the newly-created Campaign for New York’s Future announced that its mission was to fight large tax increases on the wealthy to fill the enormous budget holes created by the coronavirus pandemic.
But when some of the ten board members who signed on saw that they were promoting no new taxes on the rich, they balked, claiming they’d been hoodwinked. One by one, they started to drop off the board.
One of them was the head of the Riders Alliance, an advocacy group that promotes transit.
“It was really inconsistent with our values, to say the least,” said Danny Pearlstein. “The idea that we can’t have new taxes, or we can’t have progressive sources of revenue because, at bottom, we believe in a fairer city. And progressive taxation is an incredibly important part of equitable public policy.”
Throughout the day Wednesday, the leaders of five different civic organizations dropped their association with the group, including the League of Conservation Voters, the New York City Hospitality Alliance and Tech NYC.
Late Wednesday, the campaign, which is headed by former Governor David Paterson, released a statement.
“It's disappointing — but not surprising — that some of the loudest voices in our politics care more about winning the war on Twitter than putting in the work to revitalize our small businesses, cultural institutions and communities. It's also clear that those voices won't stop bullying some of our partners until they submit. We want no part of that, so while we continue to support all of these great organizations, we are releasing each of them from their commitments to our campaign,” the statement reads.
Asked about the prospect of raising taxes to fill a budget hole for the MTA and the rest of the state, Governor Cuomo told reporters during a conference call that it would never be enough.
“If you increased taxes to the highest level in the country, to the highest level ever established, you wouldn’t come near the amount of money needed to fill the holes,” Cuomo said.
But a growing number of lawmakers support higher taxes, which could lead to a showdown with Cuomo in the near future.
“We have come to a point where people are starting to see that this has been the very obvious only answer,” said Yuh-line Niou, a Democratic Assemblywoman for Manhattan.
Sources say one of their main financial backers was hedge fund manager Paul Singer, who is a big donor to the Republican Party.
A spokesman for the campaign denied he was involved, but would also not disclose the identity of any of the group's donors.