With Budget Deadline Approaching New Yorkers Left In The Dark

March 13, 2009

When Governor David Paterson unveiled his 2009-10 state budget proposal in December, I was outraged to learn he expected already struggling businesses and families to pay 137 new taxes and fees on a wide range of products and services. We all understand that times are tough, but to add any fiscal burden of our state’s employers and residents is counterproductive to our goal of putting the economy back on the path to prosperity.

New York State taxpayers achieved an initial victory in the battle over this year’s state budget as legislative leaders agreed to eliminate $1.3 billion of the $4 billion in proposed new taxes and fees. Governor Paterson recently caved in to pressure and removed some of his proposed taxes and fees from his version of the budget, including the 18 percent “obesity tax” on high caloric beverages, cable/satellite services, sales tax for “amusement” activities such as movies, bowling, golfing and gym memberships, as well as a tax on digital downloads from the Internet.

Still, my colleagues that represent the New York City-dominant delegation of the state Legislature just don’t get it. New York doesn’t have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem. We must look at ways to invest in our economy, especially in Upstate New York, while reining in excessive state spending through the elimination of unnecessary programs and pork-barrel projects. With the money we save, we must do all that we can to further reduce the burdens placed on our local taxpayers and ensure there are no new taxes and fees in the 2009-10 state budget.

Though the days are getter longer, thanks to Governor Paterson and his "three-men-in-a-room" approach to the budget process, New Yorkers will be left in the dark. The Governor, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith have decided to conduct budget negotiations behind closed doors with complete disregard for reforms and repeated calls for government transparency and openness. It appears the three New York City lawmakers have decided to put partisan politics and political expediency above building a bipartisan consensus that will ultimately solve our economic woes and produce a better budget.

We must work together to make New York State affordable again. As we work to adopt the 2009-10 state budget before the April 1 deadline, your input is greatly appreciated. Constituents who wish to discuss this topic or any other state-related matter should contact my district office at (315) 781-2030 or e-mail me at kolbb@assembly.state.ny.us.