State Budget Unmitigated Disaster

Legislative column from Assemblyman Brian M. Kolb (R,C,I-Canandaigua)
April 3, 2009

Going back to the well when the well is dry won’t solve your need for water, regardless of how thirsty you are. Unfortunately, the three New York City legislative leaders arrogantly ignored this common sense axiom while they crafted the 2009-2010 state budget behind a veil of secrecy.

During a fiscal recession, with mounting unemployment and inflation, we cannot force taxpayers to give more to the government in the form of increased taxes and fees and expect them to invest in our economy by purchasing goods and services. Yet, this year’s $132 billion budget does precisely that with its nearly 10 percent increase in spending over last year and approximately $7 billion in higher taxes and fees. It is for this reason I voted no on this year’s budget.

This budget attempts to tax every possible good and service in a desperate effort to close the gap on shrinking revenues. It levies fees on vehicle registration, driver's licenses, license plates, bottled water, beer and wine, State University tuitions, and hunting and fishing licenses, while also increasing taxes on health insurance, energy bills and income of $250,000 or more a year. It is baffling to me that anyone would think that increased taxes will help our troubled economy.

While attempting to tax the state out of a recession, this year’s budget increases spending about 3 times more than the inflation rate. To overcome our economic woes, government must be more fiscally responsible and accountable with taxpayer dollars. Cost-saving measures must be implemented immediately including consolidation of state agencies, elimination of wasteful programs and putting a stop to Medicaid fraud and abuse, which alone can save the state more than $4 billion annually. Instead, these legislative leaders took it upon themselves to create a disastrous state fiscal blueprint, which cuts in the wrong places, including $2.3 billion in health care and $1.7 billion in tax relief, without making a dent in total state spending. We cannot tax and spend our way back to fiscal health, it’s just that simple.

Even worse, this year’s budget gives nothing back to struggling homeowners. In fact it offers no property tax relief and even eliminates the STAR rebate check program. This is most likely due to geographic differences between the area represented by the legislative leaders and the rest of the state where skyrocketing property taxes continue to force many people from their homes. The Governor said he supports a property tax cap yet continues to avoid action on the matter. For years I have been calling for comprehensive property tax reform and once again my pleas have fallen on deaf ears as this year’s budget is passed sans any property tax relief for our state residents.

New York State needed a budget that would help it weather this economic storm. Instead we were given an unmitigated disaster of a budget, one that taxpayers will be paying for in the years to come. This budget, more than any previous budget, taxes and spends too much while offering no reform or hope to businesses and families who can no longer afford to call the Empire State home. In the coming months we will have to revisit this budget, especially as revenues shrink and our deficit grows. At that time we will need to take action to clean up this mess and scale back wasteful spending, hurtful taxes and put more money back into the pockets of hard-working residents.

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