The 2008 Legislative Session will long be remembered as one of turmoil. It began with the hope of accomplishing an aggressive agenda for the people of New York State, but was soon derailed by the sudden resignation of Governor Eliot Spitzer amidst yet another scandal, further undermining the public trust in our state government.
This gave the stateís new executive, Governor David Paterson, only a few short weeks to unify state lawmakers in a spirit of renewed cooperation in order to finalize the 2008-09 budget. It is unfortunate that the state spending plan signed into law is far from perfect, adding almost $900 million in new taxes and fees during a time of economic uncertainty. Because we adjourned session knowing that there will be insufficient revenue available to fund the $122 billion budget, the state Legislature will need to revisit state spending at some point in the near future.
It is my sincere hope that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver will reconvene session at some point in the coming weeks to tackle revenue shortfalls, as well as significant legislation left untouched. The residents of the 129th Assembly District demand relief from the financial burden our state places on their daily lives, we can help them by:
- Capping property taxes at 4 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower.
- Restricting burdensome unfunded mandates placed on municipalities and school districts.
- Eliminating all state taxes on gasoline and offering tax breaks for home heating fuel.
- Granting the Legislature, not the Thruway Authority, the ability to approve toll hikes.
- Cutting job killing taxes like the Corporate Franchise Tax, Bank Tax, and Insurance Tax.
- Ending Medicaid fraud and waste, using the money saved to make healthcare more efficient for those that need it.
- Collecting taxes on Native American tobacco sales.
While there is much more to be done, I am proud to say several important pieces of legislation were passed by the state Legislature. These measures, while not directly aimed at reducing the financial burdens placed on Upstate families, do help to improve our quality of life. Pending the Governorís approval are bills that would encourage cleanup of polluted brownfield sites, expand domestic violence laws to protect dating couples, prevent the resale of recalled toys, enact tougher rules for teenage drivers, and promote net metering, a method of encouraging the use of renewable energy technology. Protecting our loved ones is important, but will mean nothing if they cannot afford to live here.
By alleviating the financial constraints New York places on families, seniors and businesses, we can work to restore public confidence in our state government and make this a great place to live and work once again. Should you like to discuss state-related issues, please contact my district office at (315) 781-2030 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.