Governor David Paterson and the leaders of the Legislature have struck adeal to create two new tax brackets for those earning above $300,000 and$500,000. The new tax structure would raise an estimated $4 billionannually.

This is largely due to the work of State Senator Eric Schneiderman, theWorking Families Party, and others who responded to the state’s $15 billion budget deficit by asking the wealthy to pay their fair share and demanding an end to the injustice of people earning $20,000 per year paying the same taxrate as Bernie Madoff, Donald Trump and the hedge funders — 6.85 percent. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was instrumental in making progressive tax reform part of the final budget negotiations.

Initially, Gov. Paterson proposed the same tired conservative economicpolicy that has dominated the past thirty years–$9 billion of harsh cutsin education, healthcare and social services, and $5 billion in newtaxes that would hit the struggling poor and middle-class the hardest.No sacrifices for the wealthy. Although there are still cuts that willcause a lot of pain for working people and the poor, this budget will bevastly improved.

Dan Cantor, executive director of the Working Families Party, told theTimes: “It’s a profound breakthrough for tax fairness.” In the perennial balancing act between a transformative politics aimed at a more humane and sustainable society, and the necessary compromises to begin addressing people’s immediate needs, progressives have scored an important and timely victory.