End Of Session "To Do List"

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

With the Legislative Session slated to end next week, we have reached the 11th hour. If we are to pass significant measures, which would ease the financial burden and improve the quality of life of struggling Upstate families, the state Legislature must act now.

I have been fighting for legislation that would help hard-working families finding it difficult to pay ever-increasing bills. In these tough economic times, our focus, as representatives of the people, must be to make New York affordable again. That is the only way we will stop the exodus of residents who leave in search of less expensive states to live and work. To achieve this goal, we must rein in state spending, cap property taxes, eliminate state taxes on fuel and provide incentives that will spur economic development, thus, creating new jobs.

To start, the legislature must cap the property tax levy at 4 percent or 120 percent of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), whichever is less. My Assembly Minority Conference and I have been advocating this since last year and it is time to make it a reality in New York State. To further control local property taxes, the state must restrict the number of unfunded mandates it places on municipalities and school districts. I advocate legislation that requires any state mandate that costs more than $10,000 annually (or $1 million statewide) be fully funded by the state. These two measures will provide long overdue relief to local taxpayers, while giving the Legislature time to explore other relief options, such as a circuit-breaker or an income-based tax system.

Fuel prices continue to skyrocket, leaving many families wondering how they will find the money to fill up at the pump or heat their homes. In Upstate New York driving is a necessity, not a luxury. The Legislature must take action to reduce or even eliminate all state taxes on fuel, which would save taxpayers millions of dollars a year. We also must be pro-active in enacting initiatives designed to offset home heating fuel expenses. This is crucial as residents look to lock in home heating oil prices for the upcoming winter. These measures will dramatically help Upstate families while we work to lessen our nation’s dependency on foreign oil by creating alternative energy options.

Unemployment is up as businesses, like families, flee our state. Keeping in mind that small businesses are the backbone of our economy, I support legislation that gives tax and regulatory breaks to these businesses. While we help small businesses thrive, we must do more to keep manufacturing plants right here in Upstate New York by cutting job-killing taxes like the Corporate Franchise Tax. The Legislature must do everything in its power to help businesses create and retain the jobs that allow families to put food on their tables and provide a better life for their children.

Now is not the time to play politics. We must work together to enact laws that will make New York State a place our families are proud to call home. Should you like to discuss state-related issues, please contact my district office at (315) 781-2030 or e-mail me at kolbb@assembly.state.ny.us.