New York, like most states, is facing a large budget shortfall. Large budget cuts were made last year and there will likely be more this year. Until last week, the Democratic Governor, Andrew Cuomo, had resisted continuing a surtax on high income (> $200,000/year) earners that was to expire in a few weeks. But yesterday, the NY legislature enacted a different surtax -- with unanimous support from Republicans in the New York State Senate.
The details are in this New York Times article:
The Senate voted 55 to 0 for the tax code changes about 9 p.m. Wednesday, and the Assembly voted 132 to 8 around 1 a.m. Thursday. The governor plans to sign the measure into law soon, and the new tax rates will take effect in January.
Now, Republicans have a 32-30 majority in the New York Senate, and Democrats have a 98-50-1 majority in the New York Assembly. I haven't examined the roll calls, but it is clear that the new surtax -- which actually is a millionaire's tax, as the article explains -- had overwhelming support from Republicans as well as Democrats. Sanity prevailed, as people realize that government has a role to play and that it needs revenue to function.
Is this a first sign that Republican obstructionism is breaking? Unfortunately, I don't think so. Republicans in NY have never been fiscal conservatives; we are still paying for the spending projects of Robert Moses and Nelson Rockefeller. The real questions are whether the national version of the Republican Party and the local version here in NY are even the same party any more, and whether the extremists will try to punish the Republicans who did the right thing.
Another interesting question is how this will affect congressional elections this year: NY doesn't have its redistricting maps yet; will Tea Party Reps like Nan Hayworth or Bob Turner dare criticize the state party leadership knowing that their districts could be sliced and diced like salami?