Aug. 8, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
A rally is taking place in Corona Sunday calling for New York’s billionaires to pay more taxes to help the state recover from the COVID-19 economic downturn.
The “Barrios Not Billionaires” march is being organized by Make the Road New York and will kick off near Corona Plaza at 2:30 p.m. The demonstration is being supported by several Queens elected officials and other advocacy groups.
Make the Road New York (MTRNY), a New York City-based immigrant advocacy group with an office in Jackson Heights, wants the ultra-rich to cover the $14 billion state deficit projected for 2021 that was caused, in large part, by the coronavirus shutdown.
Governor Cuomo has warned that – without a federal bailout – schools, hospitals and other local services face funding cuts of up to 20 percent across the board to get the state out of the red.
Cuomo has indicated that he will not increase taxes on the rich to make up the shortfall which has angered MTRNY and its supporters. Cuomo believes that taxing the rich would be counter-productive and would only drive the wealthy – and their money – out of the state.
However, MTRNY said that New York’s billionaire’s can afford to pay. MTRNY said that billionaires have gotten richer during the economic downturn while low income workers have suffered disproportionately.
MTRNY said that over 100 billionaires increased their wealth by more than $77 billion during the first three months of the shutdown, citing data sourced from Forbes.
They want billionaires and not workers to bear the cost of the downturn.
The march on Sunday will focus on real estate mogul Richard LeFrak, who has increased his net worth by almost 30 percent to $3.6 billion during the pandemic, the group claim citing data sourced from Forbes.
The group has taken issue with LeFrak because he is a major donor to Governor Andrew Cuomo and his family has ties to the community through its ownership of the LeFrak City apartment complex. LeFrak City is a major apartment development in Corona and parts of Elmhurst.
Demonstrators will meet at 40-04 National St. and march toward the LeFrak City complex where they will hold a press conference with elected officials at 59-17 Junction Blvd. at 4 p.m.
Several Queens lawmakers are expected to attend the rally including State Senator Jessica Ramos, Assembly Members Catalina Cruz, Jeff Aubry, Brian Barnwell and City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer.
The protest comes weeks after MTRNY held a similar protest outside the Manhattan apartment of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos calling for billionaires to pay more taxes.
The Aug. 9 protest is also being held to express support for several state bills that would tax the super-rich if passed and signed into law.
Ramos has introduced a bill that would raise $5.5 billion in taxes from billionaires that would go toward creating a fund to help workers who are excluded from wage protection programs like unemployment benefits. Many of these workers are undocumented immigrants.
Ramos, whose bill would require billionaires to pay tax on their unrealized capital gains, said that working-class communities have suffered job losses, the death of loved ones, and face the threat of homelessness while the rich have gotten richer.
She said that her bill would provide these workers with the support they need to make it through the pandemic.
“It’s the only way all New Yorkers can get back on their feet and stabilize our economy in a safe and healthy manner,” Ramos said in a statement Friday.
Ramos’ bill is one of several pieces of legislation to be introduced before the state legislature that aims to bring in tax revenue from billionaires.