State Budget Can’t Be Balanced On Backs Of Upstate Families

Legislative column by Assemblyman Brian M. Kolb (R,C,I-Canandaigua)
March 20, 2008

One may argue that New York state government has never experienced such a turbulent time. New Yorkers watched in awe as one governor resigned amidst scandal and a new governor took the reins of a government often branded as dysfunctional and obstinate. To make matters worse, the nation is on the verge of an economic recession, which will only increase the suffering of New Yorkers who already pay among the highest taxes in the country. Clearly, there is much work to be done.

The swearing-in of David Paterson as New York’s 55th governor is a testament to a man who has overcome countless obstacles in his own life to rise to such a prominent post. His leadership will be tested in the coming days as he starts to address the many challenges facing this state. The first hurdle will be to cooperate with the state Legislature and enact a state budget on or before the April 1 deadline.

Over the last eight years, state budgets have increased spending by more than 60 percent. This year’s proposed state budget spends $124 billion, an increase of about 5 percent over last year. Spending more means a necessity for increased revenues in the form of additional taxes, fees and fines. It is unacceptable that the New York City political bosses want to balance the state budget on the backs of the middle-class, upstate homeowners who are already struggling to make ends meet. I will continue working with my colleagues to curb state spending while promising to vote against a budget that spends too much, taxes too much and does nothing to reduce our $5.1 billion deficit.

At this rate, future generations will be paying for the New York state debt for decades to come. Imagine if corporations, or even families, operated in this manner. The truth is, they wouldn’t because accumulating massive debt is not an option. Businesses and families understand the constraints of living within a budget and doing more with less. We need to apply this principle to our own state budget.

I am grateful to have been chosen by Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco to represent our Conference on the Economic Development Joint Budget Subcommittee. This is a wonderful opportunity for me to fight for the needs of upstate New York in a downstate dominated Legislature. Implementing a property tax cap and a strong economic revitalization plan will be essential to jumpstarting the economy in upstate New York, making it an area that families can once again afford to live in.

Despite the transition in the Executive office, the state Legislature continues budget negotiations in earnest. Bi-partisan, joint budget conference committees will meet regularly in the coming week to hammer out details in specific subject areas including education, human services, public protection, health, environment/agriculture and economic development. I am hopeful a budget agreement will be reached – one that will produce a fiscally sound and on-time budget this year.

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