Building A Better Budget For Upstate New York

Legislative column by Assemblyman Brian M. Kolb (R,C,I-Canandaigua)
March 14, 2008

The families living and working in upstate New York are feeling the squeeze, now more than ever. Money is flying out of their wallets as they struggle to afford essentials such as groceries, gasoline, heating fuel, education, healthcare and property taxes. My Assembly Minority Conference and I took an opportunity this week to remind the New York City dominated Assembly that upstate has unique needs that must be addressed in this year’s budget.

Amidst scandal in the Executive Chamber, the state Legislature continued its work on behalf of the people of New York State. The April 1 state budget deadline is looming and both houses of the state Legislature have passed their “one-house budget bills.”

During the debate on these bills, my Conference and I fought for amendments to the Assembly Majority fiscal plan that sought tax relief, economic development, job creation, better health care and smaller, more efficient government. Kolb explains that the floor amendments, which were ultimately shot down by the Assembly Majority, would have reined in spending, alleviated the burden on property owners, reduced the size of government, controlled the cost of healthcare and helped manufacturing/small businesses thrive. A few of the floor amendments advanced this week in the state Assembly include:

  • Eliminate all state gasoline taxes.
  • Eliminate the personal income tax on Middle Class STAR rebate checks.
  • Personal income tax cut for individuals earning $75,000 or less a year and families earning $150,000 or less.
  • Eliminate the Thruway Authority, merging it into the Department of Transportation.
  • Restore the proposed 35 percent cut to Medicaid inflationary trend factors for hospitals, home care and nursing homes.
  • Eliminate the Corporate Franchise Tax and Personal Income Tax on manufacturers.
  • Implement a Small Business Tax Relief Plan.
  • Restore cuts to counties for temporary assistance for needy families.
  • Reduce all state non-personal service spending by 15%.

The Assembly Majority advanced a budget that spends and taxes too much, while reforming too little. We cannot continue to tax families right out of New York while increasing the state debt – a debt that our children will have to find a way to pay off. It amazes me that the Majority dismissed our common-sense proposals. Clearly, they care little about the impact this budget will have on the upstate economy.

Our number one priority must be property tax reform. I continue my fight to implement a property tax cap on levies at the rate of inflation or 4 percent, whichever is lower. While this debate continues, we must not sit idle. As part of the budget we proposed, we included eliminating the personal income tax on the Middle Class STAR rebate checks, as well as a tax cut on personal income for individuals earning less than $75,000 a year and families earning less than $150,000 a year. Tax cuts and rebate checks are necessary in an effort to jump-start our stalling economy.

Finally, I want to thank Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco who appointed me to serve on the Assembly Conference Budget Committee for Economic Development. Serving on this committee, I will be able to continue my fight to build a better budget as we creep closer and closer to the budget deadline.

Should you like to discuss this or any other state-related issue, please contact my district office at (315) 781-2030 or e-mail me at