(The Center Square) – New York state Senate Republicans offered Wednesday an amendment that would have eliminated the income tax liability on a portion of unemployment benefits residents received last year. However, Democrats voted against the proposal.
State Sen. Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, proposed amending Senate Bill 28, a bill dealing with small business regulations, to include the tax break. The amendment was actually a bill filed on Feb. 25 by state Sen. Simcha Felder, D-Brooklyn. Tedisco is a co-sponsor of that bill.
That bill calls for the first $10,200 of unemployment income to be excluded from taxation. That works out to $600 per week of benefits for 17 weeks. Six states, including New Jersey and Pennsylvania, exempt unemployment checks from taxation.
Tedisco said on the floor that the federal government has already taken that step. He added that he was surprised the Democratic majority has yet to bring the measure to the floor, especially since the state’s budget deficit has been filled.
“You taxed the rich by $7 billion, but these aren't the rich, these are the people who are most challenged economically, and you haven't done a thing yet,” he said.
Democrats ruled the amendment as against procedure. In a statement prior to his speech, Tedisco said that if the majority party pulled that move, then they should push Sen. Felder’s bill through and pass it.
The U.S. Department of Labor reports that 4.6 million New Yorkers have drawn unemployment benefits since the start of the pandemic a year ago.
State Sen. Tom O’Mara, R-Big Flats, said the pandemic has hit New York families hard and that the state should take care of them.
“We can't keep piling financial burden upon financial burden and expect workers to ever get back on solid ground again,” said O’Mara, the ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee.