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Income inequality used locally to battle Cuomo's proposed budget

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Albany/HV: Income inequality used locally to battle Cuomo's proposed budget
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The haves versus the have-nots. It has been a theme behind protests from groups on both sides of the political spectrum. Our Bill Carey has more on the issue of income inequality.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- In Washington, Democrats have been hoping to focus on the issue of income inequality, using it as an issue in their battle with the GOP for control of Congress.

But Democrats closer to home may have problems with the issue.

The issue is being used to battle budget proposals from New York's Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo.

"They're not going to fly. They're smoke and mirrors. It's not going to do anything to provide any relief to our communities. It's going to hurt our communities," Rick Noreault, of the Civil Service Employees Association, said during a rally Tuesday at the State Office Building in Syracuse.

Cuomo continues to focus on the need to reduce the size of local governments to confront dwindling resources.

In his new budget, he offers a freeze on property taxes with some conditions.

"The locality stays within the 2 percent cap. And, in year two, the locality takes concrete steps to reduce their costs through shared services and/or consolidation," said Cuomo.

But the activists argue that the need to reduce local government costs is brought on by the state's continuing drive to be seen cutting taxes

"I think that it's election year, part of it. I think that he wants to basically make sure that people are talking about tax cuts. They sound like really sexy to all of us. Unfortunately, it's not really us who are getting those tax cuts. It's the wealthiest New Yorkers and people don't seem to understand that," said Rosemary Rivera, of Citizen Action.

"And then they tell us, there's no money. That's because the rich don't pay their fair share anymore," said Howie Hawkins, a former Green Party gubernatorial candidate.

Howie Hawkins ran against Cuomo in 2010.

"If we went back to the income tax we had in the 1970s, 95 percent of us would get a tax cut. And, with what the top 5 percent paid, we'd have $8 billion more," said Hawkins.

The governor shows no signs of backing away from the drive to cut business taxes as well.

"And really send a strong signal to business saying this is a different day and we're doing it a different way," said Cuomo.

The activists admit convincing lawmakers to vote against tax cuts, in an election year, will be a tough battle.

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