Astorino talks tax plan in Rochester stop


Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks has thrown her support behind Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino's tax plan.

Her backing should come as no surprise, since she was an early Astorino supporter. She introduced Astorino at an appearance at a East Rochester gun shop in March, when he was touring Upstate to announce his candidacy.

During today's event at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center, Brooks said that Albany is still living beyond its means and relying on gimmicks disguised as tax relief. She said that Astorino's plan would do away with the gimmicks and implement a flatter tax code, which would benefit more people.

"Everyone knows someone who has rendered the ultimate judgement by voting with their feet," Brooks said.

Astorino explained his plan in simple terms. Individuals making $200,000 or less and couples making $300,000 or less would be put into a 4 percent tax bracket, he said. All income above that would be taxed at 6 percent, he said. Right now, New York uses a graduated income tax; in simple terms, earners in the lowest tax bracket pay a 4 percent rate, and in the highest bracket — earnings above $1 million for an individual and $2 million for a couple — pay an 8.8 percent rate. (Practically, the rates have much more nuance than the description provides.)

He also said that the plan would eliminate the estate tax and the 18-A utility tax (which the state is already phasing out).

"Our plan would take us from the worst of the worst to at least the best of the worst," he said. That is, he said that he wants to make New York the most competitive, in terms of taxes and business environment, among Northeast states.

For the most part, Astorino stuck to talking about how bad things are in New York. Property and income taxes are too high, he said, and the state is doing everything possible to make sure businesses leave. And the government is corrupt, he said. 

He blasted Governor Andrew Cuomo's START-UP NY program as a gimmick, and said that the companies will leave the state after their decade of exemptions is up. And he questioned Cuomo's assertion that he brought tax relief to the state. 

But those statements put Astorino at odds with many Senate Republicans, who are all too happy to tout the same tax relief measures. And some of them have stood alongside Cuomo to announce that businesses are coming to their communities under the START-UP NY program. The Senate Republican Campaign Committee even touts that its members fought for START-UP NY to spark economic growth from state universities.