Post-Standard: Green Party candidates tout higher state aid, city income tax

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Green Party candidates running for Syracuse mayor and city council are calling for a return to the good old days when New York state shared 8 percent of its revenues with local governments, a change they say would solve the fiscal problems facing the city.

Mayoral candidate Kevin Bott and 4th District Common Council candidate Howie Hawkins will hold a news conference at 11 a.m. today at city hall to promote their ideas for raising money to avert a fiscal crisis for Syracuse. Along with increased state aid, they propose a progressive city income tax on people who work in Syracuse.

In 1971, in response to demands from its Big Six cities, including Syracuse, New York state adopted a generous revenue-sharing plan that initially devoted 18 percent of state income-tax revenues to cities and other local governments. The formula was later amended to devote 8 percent of all state revenue to municipalities.

But the link between aid and revenue was severed in the 1980s, and aid to municipalities has been mostly frozen or reduced since then. Today, state aid to local governments represents less than 1.4 percent of state revenue. Bott and Hawkins say cities should again join hands to demand more from Albany. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has stated flatly that the state will not bail out troubled cities with more money.

In an interview Tuesday, Bott said he would support a graduated city income tax that would range from 0.5 percent for the lowest wage earners to 2 percent for the highest. He estimates the tax would raise more than $35 million a year, much of it from commuters who work in Syracuse but live in the suburbs.

Bott is running against incumbent Mayor Stephanie Miner, a Democrat, and Ian Hunter, the Conservative Party candidate. Hawkins is running against incumbent Councilor Khalid Bey, a Democrat.

Contact Tim Knauss at or 315-470-3023 or on Twitter @TimKnauss.

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Howie Hawkins is the 2017 Green candidate for Syracuse Mayor
Hawkins for Mayor