Lake Ontario shoreline is declared disaster area
Trump OKs funds for f lood recovery
President Trump on Tuesday declared Lake Ontario’s New York shoreline a disaster area, opening up federal funding for recovery efforts from flooding that occurred between May 2 and Aug. 6.
State, local and tribal governments, as well as some nonprofit groups, will be eligible to apply for federal money for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by flooding in Niagara, Orleans, Oswego, Wayne, St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties.
Also under the president’s declaration, the state is eligible for federal funding on a costsharing basis for hazard mitigation efforts.
However, the disaster declaration, issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said the region’s application to allow individuals to apply for assistance remains under review.
The disaster declaration was good news not just for the region’s municipalities, but also for Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, who has been pressing for the federal aid for months.
“We have witnessed awful devastation along the shoreline and have stayed persistent in our fight to secure federal assistance,” Collins said. “My
ers from New York and New Jersey. They are among the states that could be hurt the most by a House proposal to limit the state and local tax deduction to the first $10,000 of real estate taxes paid, and a Senate proposal to eliminate the SALT deduction entirely.
Cuomo has argued that the proposal could force New Yorkers to pay $16 billion more in federal taxes. He issued a report last week that said 91,041 taxpayers in Erie County alone would suffer under the House’s proposal to cut the SALT deduction, with the average taxpayer paying $2,884 more annually.
Asked to explain the move, Mulvaney argued that the existing SALT deduction hurts taxpayers in his home state – because, living in a low-tax state, South Carolinians have less to deduct and therefore pay higher federal taxes.
“If our lives are entirely exactly the same … but you live in New York City and I live in South Carolina, why should I pay more federal tax than you do?” he asked. “Because that’s the way the world works right now. And I think you could make an argument that that’s simply not fair; it’s not right … that the folks who live in the low-tax jurisdictions are actually subsidizing the folks who live in the hightax jurisdictions.”
New York has traditionally gotten far less back in federal benefits than it pays in federal taxes. In 2015, U.S. Census Bureau figures show that federal tax collections per capita in New York were $13,659 – far greater than the $10,552 in per capita federal benefits.
Meanwhile, the situation was reversed in South Carolina, a low-wage state where the average taxpayer contributed $4,921 to the federal government, while per-capita federal benefits of $10,791 were greater than in New York.
In response to Mulvaney’s comments, Cuomo stressed New York’s role as a “donor state” that gives the federal government much more than it gets back. “Mulvaney should know better, and he does,” Cuomo said. “I’ll make it simple: Just give New York the $48 billion we send to Washington that makes us the No. 1 donor state in the nation, and he and the president can do whatever they want with state and local tax deductibility.”
Asked about New York’s status as a donor state, Mulvaney said: “The system is not set up so that states get back the same amount of money they put in.”
And he stressed that if a South Carolinian earned the same amount as a New Yorker, the South Carolinian would likely pay more in federal taxes just because the New Yorker would benefit more from the SALT deduction. “All things being equal, if I am paying more federal tax than you are, I am subsidizing your high-tax existence,” he said.
Mulvaney also cast doubt on another argument that Cuomo and other advocates of the current system make: that by withdrawing the deduction, the federal government would, in essence, be taxing state and local tax benefits, which would do far more damage in a high-tax state such as New York.
“I’ve heard the folks say, ‘You know, it’s really double taxation,’” he said. “But I’m, like, ‘No, we’re only taxing you once. Somebody else just happens to be taxing you, but we’re only taxing you once.’ ”
In addition, Mulvaney accused Cuomo of exaggerating the impact of the proposed changes to the SALT deduction. The budget director noted that with the standard deduction nearly doubling to $24,000 for a family of four, far fewer people would need to itemize – and would get a tax break even with the loss of other deductions.
“The governor of New York said this is going to be a tax increase on every single person in New York,” Mulvaney said. “That’s just not right.”
Mulvaney also said he was confident that the GOP taxoverhaul plan – which aims to lower rates for many individuals while cutting the corporate tax rate by 43 percent – would pass when the House votes on its bill later this week.
“The atmosphere is pretty positive,” he said, contrasting the tax effort with the GOP’s failed attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. “I could not say the same thing when we were at this point in the process about health care. I think health care was a piece of legislation that was looking for a way to fail. Tax reform is a piece of legislation looking for a way to succeed. I think it’s an entirely different dynamic.”
Congressional Republicans have vowed to pass tax-overhaul legislation by the end of the year, but they still face obstacles.
First and foremost, there’s the difference between the House and the Senate bills over what to do about the SALT deduction. In hopes of resolving that difference, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said Tuesday that he will introduce an amendment to the Senate bill accepting the House provision allowing deductions of up to $10,000 in property taxes.
“This will help ensure House acceptance of the Senate plan as leaders there have stated they will not accept a plan with no state and local deductibility,” Paul said on Twitter. He also said on Twitter that such a change would ensure that, under the bill, many more Americans would get a tax cut.
Republicans will also have to resolve several other differences between the House and Senate versions. The GOP will also probably have to overcome unanimous Democratic opposition, which is why Schumer suggested that the GOP start its taxoverhaul effort all over again.
“The Trump administration and our Western New York representatives in Congress should go back to the drawing board and work with us in a bipartisan way to pass real tax reform that will benefit the middle class and grow our economy – because this plan will do neither, even while it cruelly hammers New York,” Schumer said.