Cuomo Speech Interrupted by Chants of ‘Tax the Rich’

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Governor Cuomo's plan to let the so-called "millionaire's tax" expire at the end of this year is causing an uproar — literally. The gov's speech before the Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators was interrupted last night by chants of "Tax the rich!" led by City Councilman Charles Barron. "Shame on you!" Barron yelled before rallying a small but vocal group of audience members. "How are you tonight, Charles?" Cuomo replied from the podium. "I can't see who it is, but I know who it is."

Barron, a Democrat from Brooklyn, was upset with Cuomo's budget, which calls for cuts to education and health-care spending to close the state's $10 billion deficit. "It's cutting us to the bone," Barron told the Daily News. "Tax the rich. Don't come to the table saying the only thing you're going to do is cut."

With signature calm, Cuomo disagreed. "I don't believe in increasing taxes," he told reporters. "I believe it's counterproductive for the state. I believe more people will leave the state and you'll have less revenue." In fact, he said, based on his current approval ratings, he considers Barron's opinion to be outside the norm "If you take that barometer, then you would say people accept the budget that I put out."

Earlier in the day, Al Sharpton rallied lawmakers to fight Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg's proposed teacher layoffs and pension reform, adding that unions are being unfairly blamed for budget deficits. "You get elected and act like your only job is to get reelected," said Sharpton. "As soon as you get in you're worrying about how to get back in rather than how to do the job that people sent you up here for."

City Councilman Leads Chant During Cuomo Speech [NY1]
Gov. Cuomo speech drowned out with City Councilman Charles Barron-led yells of 'Tax the rich!' [NYDN]
'Tax the rich' pol disrupts gov's speech [NYP]