Fiscal Challenges Lay Ahead In The 2009-2010 Legislative Session

Legislative column by Assemblyman Brian M. Kolb (R,C,I-Canandaigua)
January 26, 2009

New York state is facing its worst fiscal crisis since the Great Depression, leaving many families to worry about how they will make ends meet. For those who were already struggling, the crisis has made it even more difficult. However, from these challenges we can grow stronger and together make New York state great again.

The 2008 Legislative Session yielded few positive results for New York state. With the sudden resignation of Eliot Spitzer last March then the adoption of a fiscally unstable budget in April, it is no wonder that many state residents have lost confidence in their government. What we need now, more than ever, is a bold, new direction that will confront our current economic crisis and redefine the way our government functions.

We must start now with the current budget negotiations. Governor David Paterson’s budget is a starting point. However, this budget comes as New York stares down a nearly $15 billion deficit and a debt of almost $55 billion so that no matter how much time lawmakers have to discuss and debate this year’s budget the decisions that will have to be made will be painful.

Still, no one can justify raising taxes and fees to the tune of almost $4 billion on the already overwhelmed middle-class families and small businesses. By enacting a budget with this type of tax and spend policy, we will only see more and more people slipping through the cracks forcing them to either leave the state or turn to welfare assistance. We need a better budget; one that realizes that this state doesn’t have a revenue problem but rather it has a spending problem.

As we enter the 2009-2010 Legislative Session, our number one priority must be to jumpstart our economy and create more jobs, especially here in Upstate New York. We must begin by enacting comprehensive property tax reform. The Legislature must cap the property tax levy at 4 percent or 120 percent of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), whichever is less. 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 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.

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.

Our fiscal problems won’t be solved with the tax and spend, business as usual philosophy that plagues our state Capitol. New Yorkers need and deserve better! That is why I will continue my fight to ease family burdens, create new jobs and hold the state more accountable for the decisions it makes. As always, constituents with questions regarding this topic or any other state-related matter should contact my district office at (315) 781-2030 or e-mail me at