Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner is reconsidering whether to challenge U.S. Rep. John Katko for Congress in 2018.
Miner, a Democrat, announced in October that she wouldn't run for Congress. But that was before the House voted on a tax reform proposal that has been panned by members of her party as a giveaway to wealthy individuals and corporations.
Katko, R-Camillus, was one of four New York Republicans who voted for the House tax bill earlier this month. The measure passed by a vote of 227 to 205.
After the vote, Miner said she was disappointed Katko supported the tax bill. On Wednesday, she said he and other New York GOP members "voted against the needs of their constituents."
"This tax plan is proving to be such a disaster that many people nationwide are reconsidering their decisions on House races," she said. "The Trump-Ryan-Katko failure to govern dooms many Syracusans and it will doom Rep. Katko's chances for re-election."
Miner highlighted three provisions that could impact the Syracuse area. Under the GOP plan, tuition waivers for graduate students who work as research or teaching assistants would be considered taxable income. The proposed change will result in lower graduate student enrollment at Syracuse University and SUNY Upstate Medical University, she said.
The bill would also end the historic preservation tax credit. While Katko voted for the bill, he later expressed concern about the potential elimination of the tax credit.
The credits have supported projects in central New York, including the rehabilitation of Hotel Syracuse (now Marriott Syracuse Downtown). Miner noted that Katko held a fundraiser at the hotel. The 2016 event was headlined by House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Miner also railed against the elimination of the state and local tax deduction in its current form. Katko opposed ending the deduction, but helped negotiate a compromise: Homeowners could deduct up to $10,000 of state and local property taxes. But the deduction would no longer apply to state and local income and sales taxes.
Cutting the state and local tax deduction, Miner said, will increase taxes on homeowners in Syracuse and in surrounding suburbs.
Katko has acknowledged that the bill isn't perfect, but also touted the benefits of the proposal. It would double the standard deduction for single filers and couples. It would also increase the child tax credit from $1,000 to $1,600 and establish a new $300 credit for parents and nondependent children.
For businesses, the bill would slash the corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent and lower taxes for certain small companies. Katko held a roundtable discussion Monday with central New York business leaders who outlined why the tax plan would be good for their companies.
"If Stephanie Miner wants to run against me because I want to cut taxes for the vast majority of my constituents, then her priorities are even more out of place than I suspected," Katko said. "I welcome the opportunity to discuss the economic malaise and stunning rate of local poverty she's leaving behind in the city of Syracuse."
If Miner enters the 24th district race, it would become one of the most competitive contests in the country. There are already two Democrats vying for the party's nomination — Dana Balter, an activist and Syracuse University graduate student, and Anne Messenger, an executive coach who has been involved in several central New York organizations. But they don't have Miner's name recognition or connections within the party.
Miner didn't offer a timetable for when she will make a final decision on the congressional race. She was unavailable for an interview Wednesday because she was at Harvard University addressing a gathering of newly-elected mayors.
A two-term mayor, Miner was first elected in 2009. She has served two terms as Syracuse's top executive. Her final term concludes this year.
With her mayoral run coming to an end, she has been mentioned as a possible candidate for higher office. While the congressional race is a possibility, she is also considering whether to challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the 2018 Democratic primary.