Building A Better Budget With Smarter Choices And Less Taxes

Legislative column from Assemblyman Brian M. Kolb (R,C,I-Canandaigua)
January 23, 2009

It has been an exciting week for the nation and New York State. The inauguration of the 44th president and the appointment of our junior Senator have brought renewed hope that things will change. However, change isn’t always necessarily good, especially when what this country and state really need is reform.

The fact remains that residents, especially in Upstate New York, are facing an unprecedented fiscal crisis, one that is hurting all of us by forcing families and businesses to do more with less. Rather than helping us make ends meet by putting more money in our wallets, Governor David Paterson proposed a budget that calls for 137 tax and fee increases, increases that will be shouldered firmly on the backs of those already hurting the most.

Some of the products and services the Governor would raise taxes or fees on include: cable and satellite television; pay-per-view movies; discount coupons; beauty salons; health clubs; weight loss programs; fishing; camping; malt-flavored beverages; digital music downloads; drinks from non-diet soda to Gatorade; car rentals; limousine services; movies; health insurance; seed dealers; parents of children with special needs; boilers; explosives; sporting events; gasoline; clothing; jewelry; footwear; automobile purchases; registration and driving fees. It seems to me entirely hypocritical that the Governor wants to tax sugar beverages in an effort to curb obesity while taxing health club memberships used by so many to keep in shape and relieve stress.

While bleeding average New York families to the tune of $3,875 a year and driving more jobs from our state, the Governor offers no relief, incentive or reform that will stimulate our economy. If the Governor is serious about creating a better New York State he wouldn’t propose a $620 tuition increase for SUNY students, cut healthcare programs by $2.6 billion, or propose $3 billion in new taxes and fees. The state cannot take water from a stone; New York families and businesses simply do not have the money and the taxes proposed by the Governor will surely dig us deeper into an economic recession.

Over the next few weeks, the state Legislature will continue to debate and negotiate changes to the 2009-10 budget. Tough choices will have to be made, but we cannot cure our fiscal woes by taxing families and businesses right out of the state. We can tackle New York’s nearly $15 billion deficit and a debt of almost $55 billion with careful spending reductions, while improving our economy by lowering taxes and fees so all of us have more money to spend in our local communities. We must go back to the budget and carefully reduce excessive, wasteful spending in an effort not to raise taxes. Tax increases should always be a measure of last resort.

The Governor’s proposal is not change nor is it reform. Instead, it is the tax and spend policy long utilized by political leaders, which led directly to our current fiscal crisis. We must do better. To that end, I will continue my fight to reduce spending and taxes on all New Yorkers so this is once again an affordable state to live and work.

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