WASHINGTON – Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo pushed hard to try to get Republican House members from New York to oppose a tax reform bill that sharply cuts the deduction for state and local taxes.
But to hear Republicans tell it, the governor didn’t push nearly as hard as he said he did.
Three House members took offense at Cuomo’s comments Thursday to reporters on Long Island, where he said he was appalled that some of those lawmakers voted for the Republican tax reform bill.
“I talked to all of them and they all had the same line which was, ‘Well you know my political leaders are forcing me to vote for it,’” Cuomo said. “You don’t work for your political leaders. You work for the people who elected you. And this was a betrayal of the people who elected you because this will hurt their constituents.”
That statement prompted three of the four New York Republicans who voted for the House tax bill Thursday to take issue with what Cuomo said.
“The governor is lying, he never called or spoke to me,” Rep. Chris Collins, a Clarence Republican, wrote on Twitter. “If he is lying about something as small as this, you can be assured he is lying about the tax reform legislation passed today.”
Rep. Claudia Tenney, a Republican from New Hartford, called Cuomo’s statement false.
“@NYGovCuomo did not call,” she wrote on Twitter.
Cuomo’s spokesman, Richard Azzopardi, acknowledged that the governor had not spoken to Collins or Tenney about the so-called SALT deduction.
“The governor’s point was the Republican Congress members he spoke to said they were under pressure from their political leadership to vote yes,” Azzopardi said.
Rep. Tom Reed, a Republican from Corning, believes Cuomo lied about the conversation they had about the tax issue on Oct. 20. An aide to Reed said that talk dealt with the details of the tax bill; the subject of pressure from House leadership never even came up.
That’s why Reed issued an angry statement about the governor’s comments.
“I knew the governor was a bully, but I didn’t know he was an outright liar,” Reed said.
The situation involving the governor’s comments overshadowed the fact that some Republicans actually remain very concerned about the tax bill the House passed Thursday, which would limit the SALT deduction to the first $10,000 of property taxes.
Five of New York’s nine House Republicans voted against the tax reform bill, citing the SALT cut as the reason.
And, at a White House discussion on tax reform led by Vice President Pence, Joseph Lorigo, the majority leader of the Erie County Legislature, raised the issue.
“People in my town, we’re going to be hit hard,” said Lorigo, of West Seneca, which just approved an 8.6 percent tax increase.
Erie County Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw also attended the White House session. He said White House officials took seriously the concerns leaders from around the country raised.
“There was a real give-and-take,” he said.