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Cuomo, with N.J. and Connecticut governors, to challenge federal tax law

ALBANY – The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut this morning said they are teaming up to challenge new federal tax overhaul law in court.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said the law tramples states’ rights and discriminates against high-tax states that are dominated by Democratic residents.

All three governors are Democrats.

“It’s punishment of blue states,’’ New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said of a lawsuit he expects to be brought in a couple weeks.

“This is intentionally discriminatory,’’ said Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, who joined the other two governors in a conference call this morning with reporters.

Cuomo said the federal law uses high-tax states like New York to help pay for tax breaks in Republican states. The law limits the deduction on state and local taxes to $10,000 annually, a level that will be exceeded by many New Yorkers with higher incomes and living in regions with especially high property taxes. Most New Yorkers, especially upstate, will get a tax cut under the new law.

“States are not colonies of the federal government. Federalism was a covenant. It was shared power, and the federal government shall not trample the state’s powers,’’ Cuomo said.

Alphonso David, Cuomo’s counsel, cautioned against speculating on the precise causes of action in the upcoming lawsuit, saying the precise legal claims are still being explored.

Some legal scholars have questioned the ability for litigation against the tax law to be successful. It also could take years to resolve in the courts.

For his part, though, Malloy said litigation could produce “interesting” documents during the discovery process; he mentioned communications between top Republican congressional leaders that could show “what they were doing to blue states.’’

“All you need is one email that says ‘these are Democratic states and therefore we can get it passed.’ Now you have a targeting for political reasons, and now you’re off to the races,’’ Cuomo said of the litigation’s future discovery phase.

Cuomo said the litigation, when brought in several weeks, could include other states besides New York, Connecticut and New Jersey.

This afternoon, U.S. Rep. Chris Collins, a Republican who voted for the tax measure last month and who has sparred with Cuomo over the new law, turned the governor's lawsuit threat into a political fundraising appeal for his own campaign.

"We can't let his tyranny go unchecked,'' Collins said in a fundraising letter to supporters.

"Instead of accepting reality, King Cuomo has decided to waste even more of our state tax dollars to steal your federal tax cuts,'' wrote the Western New York congressman.

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