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Assemblyman
Brian M. Kolb
Assembly District 131
 
People Deserve Better Budget Process
March 20, 2009

We all know that New York is facing the toughest economic conditions it has seen since perhaps the Great Depression. Unemployment may reach ten percent, retirement plans and stock portfolios have been devastated, and New York State is facing a $13.5 billion deficit as a result of Wall Street’s crash and decreased tax revenues. At the same time, property taxes continue to rise as counties struggle to pay for unfunded mandates passed down by the state and our public education system is paying the greatest price. Years of bad budgets that tax, spend and borrow too much have finally caught up with us.

With 19 million New Yorkers in this state and a new fiscal year set to begin in just a few days, it is frightening to realize that only three people have any idea what this year’s state budget will look like. Right now, the three legislative leaders, all from New York City, are behind closed doors crafting a budget that will certainly impact our businesses, not-for-profits, school districts and families across this state.

This year’s budget process debunks all previous efforts to instill greater transparency in our state government while running contrary to the very essence of our representative democracy where every voice has a right to be heard. Still the Governor, state Senate Majority Leader and the Assembly Speaker continue budget talks behind closed doors leaving the media, rank-and-file lawmakers and the general public to only guess what will be found in the $120 billion plus budget.

Ranked as the second-highest taxed state in the nation, New York is known for its oppressive tax burden. That’s why, when the Governor attempted to add 137 new taxes and fees on a wide range of products and services, I was outraged. Due to public pressure, New York taxpayers achieved a minor victory when the Governor agreed to remove $1.3 billion of the $4 billion proposed taxes and fees from his budget proposal. Eliminating some of the more grievous taxes is just a start; more must be done to ensure that the hard-earned dollars of our residents stay in their pockets while we work to jumpstart our economy.

Transparency, bipartisanship and geographic representation are essential components to constructing a sound state fiscal plan; yet, this year, all have been tossed aside for the sake of political expediency and party politics. The people of New York not only deserve to know what is being discussed but they should expect better from their government.

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.

 
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