There's little shortage of ideas from Democratic lawmakers and progressive advocates for what billions of additional dollars gained from taxing wealthy people can do for the state.
They want the additional revenue to boost mass transit systems ravaged by the pandemic and a dropoff in ridership. They want to offset the effects of a higher cost of living for some of the state's poorest residents.
But budget watchdogs are warning of the consequences of a tax hike as the state's spending continues to grow this year and as federal aid from the pandemic is expected to run dry in the coming months, and are calling to pump the brakes on spending.
Arguments for against taxing the rich are being sharpened at the state Capitol this week with a budget deadline set for Saturday.
State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office on Monday said lawmakers must have a budget finalized by April 3 in order to ensure more than 55,000 state workers are paid. If not, an emergency spending bill will have to be approved to keep the government funded. Lawmakers are not paid when a budget remains unfinished.
And one of the major hurdles to finalizing a deal could be over taxing the wealthiest residents of the state.
"We need revenue for redevelopment of Penn Station and an infusion of cash for mass transit," said state Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal.
And Cori Marquis of the Working Families Party says increasing tax rates on multi-millionaires would provide a boost for low-income New Yorkers facing higher costs of living.
"We really need to be helping workers afford life, afford their housing, afford their groceries, afford life in New York state," she said. "Otherwise, we will continue to see this mass exodus of Black and Brown New Yorkers leaving New York state."
Democratic state lawmakers want to hike income taxes on people who earn more than $5 million — a move opposed by Gov. Kathy Hochul.
It's a proposal that comes as concerns grow over an uncertainty economy. Patrick Orecki, of the non-partisan Citizens Budget Commission, says New York officials should instead slow state spending.
"We think that keeping spending growth at about 2% annually year over year going forward will be enough savings over time to not only close the budget gaps but also accomodate some of the losses of the non-recurring resources," Orecki said.
But taxing the rich is popular with voters. A Siena College poll released Monday found a broad majority of voters, 76% to 19%, support the idea. Siena pollster Steve Greenberg said that's not a surprise.
"Traditionally New Yorkers, Americans, have always supported raising taxes on the rich," Greenberg said. "Why? Because most New Yorkers, Americans are not rich and this tax wouldn't affect them."
But Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt point to other taxes being discussed as having a wider effect. Assembly Democrats this month proposed a tax on streaming services like Netflix to help pay for mass transit.
"We just continue I believe to double down on the very things that have made New York a state where business people say, don't invest there, don't expand your business there, move somewhere else," Ortt said.