After decades of fiscally irresponsible decisions, New York State faces an economic moment of truth. This “Winter of Reckoning,” as Governor Paterson characterized it in his State of the State Address a few weeks ago, demands tough decisions – in some cases painful ones – for the tough times New York is facing. Our fiscal cupboards are truly bare and policy makers must finally face that reality.
BAD ECONOMY MEANS NEW YORKERS ARE STILL STRUGGLING
Across our state, many New York families are going without the simple pleasures in life in order to balance their checkbooks in today’s difficult economic climate. For the over 865,000 New Yorkers who are unemployed and underemployed, the hurt is much worse. They are struggling to provide the basic necessities like food and shelter for their families. Businesses are being forced to put off hiring new workers in order to pay their tax bills.
State government cannot continue taxing, spending and borrowing like there is no tomorrow and pretend that our financial problems will magically resolve themselves. New Yorkers already pay some of the highest property and personal income taxes, energy, transportation, legal, pension and workers’ compensation costs in the nation. These high costs make our economy much less competitive and are why so many employers keep looking past New York State when it comes to locating or expanding their operations.
New York’s affordability crisis has forced not only employers to move to more business-friendly states, but also our “best and brightest,” who leave our state in search of a less-taxing, more affordable place to live, work and raise their families.
GOVERNOR PATERSON UNVEILS 2010-11 EXECUTIVE BUDGET
On Tuesday, Governor Paterson unveiled his 2010-11 Executive Budget. As I have said in previous weekly columns, one of our top priorities must be rebuilding our economy and creating more private sector jobs; but the Governor’s budget does not do enough on this critical front.
My top priority remains getting New Yorkers who are out of work, back to work, and reducing the crushing financial strain on families.
GOVERNOR’S BUDGET CONTAINS OVER $1 BILLION IN TAXES AND FEES
The next priority is protecting homeowners. Unfortunately, the Governor’s spending plan proposed more than $1 billion in taxes, fees and surcharges that would result in New Yorkers paying hundreds more in additional costs every year. The Governor's budget also failed to include a property tax cap to protect local taxpayers from future property tax hikes.
The Governor’s budget took some baby steps toward fiscal responsibility but did not go far enough to reduce the staggering cost of state government on New York's overtaxed, overburdened taxpayers. His spending plan includes some state agency consolidations and a temporary ban on unfunded mandates, all of which are ideas our Assembly Minority Conference and I have previously advocated for and proposed.
In ordinary times, this might have been a good start, but make no mistake: these are extraordinary times and New York needed a budget that will deliver more jobs and lower taxes. With these priorities as the measuring stick, the Governor's budget didn't do enough, and didn't go far enough, to deliver the real change our state needs and New Yorkers have been demanding.
I do applaud the Governor’s directive requiring the State Department of Taxation and Finance to move forward in collecting sales taxes from purchases made on Native American lands by non-Native Americans. It was the right thing to do to ensure a level playing field for all convenience stores. Enforcing this law could provide New York State with over $200 million on cigarette sales taxes alone. I will continue to update you on the latest development as the Legislature moves forward with its deliberations on the Governor’s budget.
MY FIRST TOWN HALL MEETING OF 2010 – SATURDAY, JANUARY 30
What is your opinion on the Governor’s plan to raise taxes on homeowners and businesses? I am once again hosting a series of Town Hall meetings all across our district – beginning Saturday, January 30, in Seneca County – and I want to hear your concerns about the economy and the Governor’s proposals. Other issues for discussion include the need for more private sector jobs; a property tax and state spending cap and a “People’s Convention to Reform New York,” to deliver the long overdue fiscal, economic and governmental reforms that fed up and frustrated New Yorkers have been demanding. Please be sure and save the date so I can hear from you next Saturday!
SENECA COUNTY TOWN HALL MEETINGS: SATURDAY, JANUARY 30
10:00 – 10:45 am, at the Lodi Town Hall , 8440 Main St., Lodi
11:00 – 11:45 am, at the Varick Town Hall, 4782 Route 96, Romulus
1:00 – 1:45 pm, at the Magee Fire Hall, 1807 Route 318, Seneca Falls
As always, constituents wishing to discuss this topic, or any other state-related matter, should contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.