‘Progressive’ de Blasio a boon for LI? – By George J. Marlin

The following appears in the February 14-20, 2014 issue of the Long Island Business News:

Most candidates who get elected running to the far left or far right of the political spectrum generally move toward the center once they’re sworn in.

This is not the approach of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

In his first month in office, de Blasio made it clear he’s sticking with an extreme leftist agenda. He insists that free markets and trickle-down economics won’t reduce inequality, and to achieve a more “just society” his administration is preparing to take serious “actions” and make “substantial government investments” – aka increased welfare spending.

His progressive actions to date, as one New York Post wag wrote, appear to be about doling out punishment: “punishing the wealthy by raising their taxes, punishing [school] charters by depriving them of space, punishing cops by branding them as racist, even punishing workers whose only crime is to take folks on horse rides around Central Park.”

One policy he’s adamant about is raising the city’s income tax rates. During the campaign, he stated that the tax increase was to fund universal pre-kindergarten classes. But after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the state would provide the money to pay for pre-K programs, de Blasio admitted he still wanted an income tax increase. His war on “income inequality,” he said, requires it.

If de Blasio gets his way, a very small pool of people – about 40,000 out of 8.5 million – will be affected. These wealthiest, who presently pay about 50 percent of total city income taxes, will have to fork over considerably more: Those who make more than $1 million, on average, will have to pay an additional $7,793 annually; over $5 million, $33,518; over $10 million, $182,893.

However, the increased income tax revenue will not be sufficient to fund all de Blasio’s social welfare plans and to pay off his key supporters – public sector employees, who expect $7 billion in back pay and significant salary increases going forward. Hence, property tax levies will probably go through the roof.

Compared to Nassau County, taxes on NYC single-family residences are relatively low. In the borderline Village of Floral Park, for instance, a post-World War II Cape Cod home on the Nassau side pays about $9,000 in total taxes, while across the street a city resident pays about $3,000 on the identical house. This disparity exists because city folks have the additional burden of paying a local income tax.

But de Blasio doesn’t care about that. To pay for his redistributive programs, he’ll happily increase the property taxes on the very middle class he claims he wants to help.

There could be economic and financial opportunities for Long Island to reap if the cost of living in the city skyrockets and the quality of life declines (i.e. crime goes up), and the mayor increases the regulatory burdens on small businesses such as expanding wage laws and paid sick and maternity leave.

To escape the city’s progressive policies, a significant number of the top 40,000 may look to suburbia. Despite Long Island’s high property taxes, on a net-net basis, the city’s 1 percenters might pay less by making the move.

Some may move to LI to avoid the income tax while keeping their city apartments. Remember, people who relocate – to, say, Sands Point – can spend up to 180 days annually in their city apartments and still claim their Long Island home as their permanent residence.

Instead of the governor of Texas poaching New York’s wealthiest folks and entrepreneurs, maybe it’s time for Long Island’s elected leaders to put out the red carpet – particularly, for those who aren’t quite ready to move to the culturally barren Southwest.

Convincing them to relocate here could be a layup – even for our bumbling county officials.

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