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Coalition seeks changes in tax structure

Members of a coalition promoting the revitalization of the Buffalo region sought commitments from city, county and state officials Friday during a forum in the Frank E. Merriweather Jr. Library on Jefferson Avenue.

The Partnership for the Public Good unveiled a 10-point plan to boost the region's fortunes just over a year ago. Allison Duwe, director of the Coalition for Economic Justice, said the response to the partnership's agenda has been met with enthusiasm.

"We have been making the point that these recommendations are actionable within the coming year and that they're being advanced by several local organizations, often in partnership with other organizations across the state," Duwe said Friday in a phone interview after the meeting.

The first item is a recommendation that the State Legislature restore progressivity to the state tax structure, which calls for a tax increase on those whose annual salaries exceed $250,000 a year.

"In New York State [the income tax structure] has become more regressive over the decades. We've lost what was once a much more progressive income tax structure . . ., which means we have lost much revenue that is needed to provide services to all of New York State, and that has increased pressure on local governments to raise sales taxes," Duwe said.

The partnership Friday appealed to local elected officials to endorse its platform and to work with the 32 organizations that help to create the agenda. The plan includes recommendations to create living-wage policies for Buffalo Public Schools and Erie County, providing more support for locally owned businesses and create more green-collar jobs.

"That would include investing in the weatherization of [older] homes in the area, making the housing stock more energy efficient, while at the same time putting people to work doing that," Duwe said.

The partnership will hold another forum at a time to be determined Feb. 17 in the Merriweather Library. The forum will explore the idea of restoring fairness to New York's taxes.

e-mail: hmcneil@buffnews.com

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