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New York, California Governors Team Up Against Tax Overhaul

California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at the Chief Probation Officers of California's Juvenile Realignment Conference, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

ALBANY (WSKG) - New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in a conference call with California Gov. Jerry Brown, singled out two New York GOP congressmen for criticism after they voted for a budget measure that clears the way for a vote on the Republican plan to overhaul the tax system.

Cuomo has been speaking out nearly every day against a proposal in the federal tax overhaul plan to eliminate state and local tax deductions from federal income tax filings. He calls it double taxation and a political attack on New York.

The state comptroller has said New Yorkers would lose $72 billion in state and local tax deductions if the Republican plan in Congress were to be approved. That’s because New York has one of the highest local tax rates in the nation.

Cuomo called out the two Republican congressmen from the state who voted for the measure on Thursday: Chris Collins of western New York and Tom Reed of the Southern Tier.

“I think it’s modern-day treason against the state; I think they are the Benedict Arnolds of today,” Cuomo said. “Because they voted against the interests of the people in their district.”

The final vote on the budget measure was 216 to 212. Cuomo said if both had voted no, the vote would have ended in a tie, and he holds the two “personally responsible” for the outcome of the vote.

“I believe it was pure party payback,” Cuomo said.

The seven other GOP congressmen and women in New York voted against the budget measure, saying they are opposed to getting rid of the state and local tax deduction.

Reed has been calling Cuomo a “hypocrite” because he said the Democratic governor is protecting a provision that benefits the wealthiest taxpayers most of all.

“It’s ironic to me that Democrats who for decades have been chastising me for standing for the ‘1 percent’ at the end of this process will be called out for what they are,” Reed said. “A bunch of hypocrites standing for the 1 percent millionaires and billionaires that are funding their campaigns and their run for president.”

Cuomo has been mentioned as a potential 2020 presidential candidate, but so far, he has only voiced plans to seek re-election as governor in 2018.

Reed said a compromise is in the works to keep the state and local tax deductions but prevent higher-income earners from claiming it. He said the limit would not affect the vast majority of people in his district.

“That’s going to allow 99 percent of the people in the district that I represent and across New York state to get a tax benefit as a result of tax reform,” Reed said.

Cuomo said preventing upper-middle-class and wealthier taxpayers from using the deduction will help drive them out of the state and put more of a tax burden on lower-income earners.

Brown agreed with Cuomo that the tax overhaul provision is politically motivated.

“This is an attack on California, New York and New Jersey and other states … that were not voting for Trump,” Brown said.

All of California’s 14 Republican congressional representatives voted for the measure that paves the way for the tax overhaul vote. Brown said he’s tried to get them to change their minds, but so far has not been successful.