Governor Cuomo: "If it wasn't so damning to this state, it would be a political parody of a party without philosophy and without compass or conscience."
Governor Cuomo: "There is no taxpayer in this state that lives in a congressional district that won't be hurt. Because there's only one state budget. And we start with the $4 billion deficit. You put the state at a structural disadvantage... And that's not complicated math. So Representatives Collins, Reed, Stefanik, they're thinking that their constituents can't add one plus one. They can. And that's why they're rushing this vote."
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today held a conference call to discuss the devastating Republican tax plan and state and local deductibility and address election results.
AUDIO of the conference call is available here.
A rush transcript of Governor Cuomo's remarks is available below.
Good afternoon. I'm here with Robert Mujica, who is the Budget Director for the State of New York. We've been talking about the Republican tax plan and how damaging it would be to the state of New York. I've said repeatedly the more people learn about this tax plan, the more they're going to learn that it's wrong for New York. I've also said that they're playing New Yorkers for fools and New Yorkers are not fools. And I think they learned that yesterday at a very high volume level.
The tax plan is a tax break for corporations. It's a tax break for the richest Americans. It's exactly the opposite of what they promised when they ran in the campaign. It was supposed to be about the middle class and the working men and women of this country. And they've given us trickle down on steroids. It's not just trickle down, though. It's trick down funded at the expense of a handful of states that happen to be states that are predominantly Democratic. At the top of the list is the state of New York. The main way they are unfair to New York and use New York as a piggy bank to finance the rest of the nation is by the elimination of the deductibility of state and local taxes. And the more you learn about it, the more obnoxious it is. In the tax reform plan, they end the mortgage interest deduction for homes over $500,000. Now, $500,000 is an expensive home, but those homes are in states like the State of New York and the State of California. They limit property tax and their compromise, they limit property tax deductions over $10,000. A lot of states don't have property taxes over $10,000. The State of New York, we have many homes that pay property taxes over $10,000.
Representatives like Collins and Reed and Stefanik say well these won't affect my district. Yes, they will. Because it's one state with one budget and one bottom line. And when you pass a proposal that savages state and local tax payers who are predominantly downstate. But when you put Westchester and New York City and Long Island voters together, Long Island taxpayers, that's 77 percent of the state's revenue. If you savage the people paying 77 percent of the revenue, where are we going to get that revenue back.
It's going to cost everyone across the state. So there is no taxpayer in this state that lives in a congressional district that won't be hurt. Because there's only one state budget. And we start with the $4 billion deficit. You put the state at a structural disadvantage. The taxes would go up on everyone. And that's not complicated math. So Representatives Collins, Reed, Stefanik, they're thinking that their constituents can't add one plus one. They can. And that's why they're rushing this vote. They're rushing it because they know the more people know about it, the more they know how bad it is for the taxpayers of this state. And how unconscionable it is.
They also eliminate the tax-free nature of what's called private activity bonds. Private activity bonds, that term is in many ways a misnomer. It's not really private activity. It's government activity. It's the dormitory authority. It's state agencies and authorities that issue bonds on behalf of private entities that are building projects that serve public purposes so it's affordable housing. It's hospitals. It's dormitories. It's roads. It is how we build our state and how we repair our state. You make those bonds taxable. They become much less attractive for investors. So that's another way that they are hurting the state. And their only rationale is "Well, New York is a high tax state. Why should New Yorkers be allowed to deduct? It's unfair." I'll tell you what's unfair.
What's unfair is when you have the greatest donor state in the nation. The state of New York pays $48 billion more than we get back. No state donates more. When you ask your number one donor to donate more, that's what they're doing. They're asking this state to finance tax cuts for other states. It is redistribution of wealth, which is exactly what the Republican Party says they're against. Except taking it from the poor and giving it to the rich, they're taking it from donor state and giving it to the poorer states. It's a perversion of everything they say they stand for. And what's happening is people are hearing it. They're learning about it and they won't stand for it. And I think the more conversation and the more they understand the more outrage you're going to see. Homes over $500,000 no mortgage interest deduction. Property taxes over $10,000 no deduction. Private activity bonds taxable, and then listen to this is a great irony.
No deductibility for state local taxes except one group. Do you know what the group is? Corporations. Corporations would still get to deduct state local taxes. So they were going to help the middle class and working New Yorkers. Now they hurt the middle class. They hurt working New Yorkers, and they take literally those funds, cut taxes for corporations, and they even allow to continue deductions for corporations. If it wasn't so damning to this state, it would be a political parody of a party without philosophy and without compass or conscience.
Any questions for myself or Mr. Mujica?
Nick Reisman: Hi there, Governor. Two questions, one on the tax issue. I was wondering if you could expand more on what you said the other day about a potential increase over this, if that's a possibility given the issues surrounding SALT as well as deficits that the state faces next year. And separately I was wondering if you could react to yesterday's election results.
Governor Cuomo: Well first it depends on what the Republicans do. If you reduce the revenues the state collects, which I believe is going to be a consequence of their tax reform. Then you either have to decimate health care, education or you'd have to find additional revenue. And that's why when Collins and Reed and Stefanik and Katko say, "Well this doesn't affect our constituents." Yes it does, because those taxes go up. You, Nick, pay higher taxes, and I don't care whose congressional district you work in or live in. We don't do taxes by congressional districts, right?
In terms of the results from yesterday, I think to miss the message one would have to live in the state of denial. We have been saying that the politics of hate and division don't sell in New York. I've been saying we as New Yorkers, find this philosophy from Washington repugnant. And what you saw yesterday was New Yorkers rise up and speak as loudly as we've heard them speak in recent elections, right? They rejected Trump. They rejected the Republican philosophy of savaging health care. I believe they rejected the SALT, state and local tax reform measures, they've rejected everything they've heard from Washington for the past 11 months. And you have undeniable evidence, I mean there's not a question of sophisticated analysis, you have it in this state.
You look at Westchester County, where Astorino was a Trump acolyte and trumpeted it all the time. You've spent $4 million, over $4 million and Latimer spent $1 million and something. And he was trounced. Trounced in a county where the county executive, Astorino, made a point of his relationship with Trump. Nassau County, Democrats win Hempstead. I don't think they've ever done that in my lifetime, and I'm old. The victory in Troy, victory in Suffolk, big victory for the DA in Suffolk County. Suffolk County was Trump territory, and the Democrats came out very big. Erie County, the Democrats win the county legislature. Monroe County, Democrats win. And Democrats turn out in an off-year election. All you guys have written 9,000 times that Democrats don't turn out in off-year elections. Well, they did this time. Westchester, they're estimating the turnout was about 40 percent, so Democrats were motivated.
They were energized, and they've come out and they've spoken loudly. And by the way, this is before these congressional members have actually had to vote on any of these absurd measures. This is before they passed state and local tax deductions. Imagine what it would be after they passed state and local tax deduction, if they're that foolish. It was North Carolina, where after the president made comments about how there are good people on all sides, talking about the KKK. Charlotte just elects the first African American woman. Maine passes a referendum to expand Medicaid coverage by twenty points, when the republican governor says, "vote against it," and when everything they're trying to do cuts Medicaid. The Virginia election obviously, Murphy in Jersey. So you saw it all across the country, but you've seen it, I think, even louder in New York and right in the heart of republican strongholds. When you're talking about Nassau and Hempstead, those are some of the most secure republican areas historically and the results were devastating for the republicans and it's only going to get worse. Again, they haven't even enacted the hate agenda. Let them vote on these pieces of legislation and I think you're going to see next year in the midterm a greater turnout and a greater explosion than you saw yesterday.
I think what they're saying is, "look, these nuanced excuseswell I'm a republican congressman, but I don't support it." No, that doesn't work. There are noI'm not giving you a pass because you technically didn't vote for something. You are part of a republican party that's espousing a repugnant philosophy. You did not win a mandate to hate in the election. You didn't win a mandate to divide. You didn't win a mandate to separate states and take from one and give to the other. We reject the vision, we reject the hate, we reject the vitriol, we reject the attacks on us. That's what you saw.
Kirstan Conley: Good afternoon. I was wondering if you could please tell us a little about what last night's results mean for the state elections in 2018, specifically, the senate, your gubernatorial run, and the IDC.
Governor Cuomo: Well I think you've seen a rejection of the republican philosophy and program all across the state. Literally from Erie County where they won the county legislature. That's Mr. Collins' backyard. Mr. Collins is one of the main "Trumpeteers" in the state. So from Erie County to Suffolk County, which supported Trump in the election, you've seen phenomenal democratic victories. So it's all across the state. They're rejecting the republican philosophy and program and the republicans haven't even begun to implement it yet. I think next year is a better year for democrats because the republicans are not going to stop, you know, the republican party now is run by extreme conservative zealots, and they're going to continue this course and they'll be more initiatives like this. So I think they'll be a greater Democratic outrage, and I don't think it's just Democratic outrage next year—it's going to be outrage by all New Yorkers. This state and local tax deduction is an arrow at the heart of every New Yorker. Frankly, more Republicans than Democrats, because more of the high-income earners, more of the household, higher income household on the island and Westchester are Republican.
So I think you're going to see an even greater turnout against what the Republicans are doing next year by Democrats and Republicans and Independents. So I think it's going to be a very good year. I think any of these Republican Congressman are in very deep trouble. I think what you saw last night is going to be the same. There's no nuance where you're a Republican Congressperson but technically you voted no. You're with this party, you're against New York. And I think we're going to do very, very well in taking back the Congressional seats held by Republicans. I think the same is going to be true for the State Legislative seats. And with the IDC, I've said repeatedly there should be Democratic unity. The two sides should check their egos at the door and unify that this is internal, intramural political fights within the Democratic Senate. And it's about power and prestige and ego, and I don't care about any of the above. They should unify.
Kirstan Conley: What role will you play in helping them unify?
Governor Cuomo: Well look, I have met with everyone, I've spoken publicly, I've spoken privately, I've had lunches, breakfasts, dinners, but I'll continue to do everything I can to unify, and as the head of the Democratic party, I am saying to both sides, your personal agenda and your personal ego is irrelevant to the Democratic party. And you're supposed to be in office to espouse Democratic platforms and ideas and help the party grow and help New York grow—rather than further your career. And I find it reprehensible that people are putting their personal careers and egos ahead of the interests of the Democrats of the state.
Kirstan Conley: Is that equally on both sides?
Governor Cuomo: Well there is no doubt it takes two to tango and the IDC, for the IDC to go back to the conference, the Senate Democratic Conference, they both have to want to do it, and they both have to be accepting and right now, depending on who you're listening to, you need movement on both sides. And I am calling for them to put their personal agendas aside and reunify. And if a person, people have to lose a title, or lose their office or lose their special license plate, I don't really give a damn and the voters don't give a damn—and it's too much about them and their egos as politicians, rather than the interests of the Democratic voters who put them in office.
Marcia Kramer: I have two questions. The first one is I wonder what your political aspirations and are you seeking national office? And the second is your feelings about President Trump demanding that democrats should be investigated by the justice department?
Governor Cuomo: Well Marcia, I don't think we have met. Marcia. Marcia. In New York we pronounce that, Marcia. I think what the president said about the justice department and the prosecutors should anger democrats. I think that's reprehensible. You know, he is in the process of hiring and interviewing US Attorneys which are coveted spots. They've already talked about the fact that he is personally interviewing candidates for US attorney. What he's effectively said is, if you want to be a US attorney, I'll tell you how you do it. You start investigations on democrats and you want to get a job as a US attorney or federal prosecutor? Start an investigation on a democrat. That's what he's saying. And it's reprehensible. The justice department was supposed to be non-political. Right? That was the theory. Now, you and I both know that US attorneys are political appointees and they're normally chosen by political elected officials so there has always been politics involved. I'm not saying that the process was ever 100 percent pure. But I've never heard of someone saying, I want you to target investigations politically. If he was an attorney or prosecutor himself, it would be unethical behavior. I'm afraid it's actually going to prove effective. And you can actually see investigations started by job seekers. I think that's reprehensible. As far what I'm going to do, I'm going to run for reelection next year, being governor of New York is my dream job, as you know. I'm in the middle of a very exciting agenda and the state has made a lot of progress. I want to keep making that progress, I don't want to go back to the bad old days. So I'm going to run for reelection and hopefully retain my dream job.
Marcia Kramer: What role does the fact that Rob Astorino lost last night play in that game? He had been saying all along that he wants to challenge you again next year. Does that take a lot of contention?
Governor Cuomo: If he wants to run, God bless him, whoever wants to run, they can run. I think Rob Astorino doesn't understand what New Yorkers believe. I think his positions as an extreme conservative republican are repugnant to the state of New York. He's not alone. He represents a line of this republican party which is probably not the majority of the Republican party in this state. There are no more Rockefeller Republicans. This is a party that's been taken over by the extreme conservatives. They're against a woman's right to choose, that doesn't sell in New York. In the midst of all of this violence, they want to roll back the SAFE act that I passed, the smartest gun safety legislation in the nation, and they want to roll it back. You stand with this president, who wants to savage New York on state and local deductibility, savage this state on health care. They are out of touch. They don't know who New Yorkers are and what we value. That's what you saw in his own county. Outspent by spending more than 4 to one against the opponent in a complex race, they just rejected Astorino as a Trump-ette.
Marcia Kramer: I think he's not unhappy that he lost.
Governor Cuomo: I'm not surprised that he lost. He's out of touch with New Yorkers. These extreme conservatives are out of touch with New Yorkers. We are a pro choice, gun safety, fairness, we reject racism, we relish diversity, and their philosophy is repugnant to all of the above. Marcia, don't mispronounce your name tonight. I'm going to watch.