The Tax Man Cometh – Again
Legislative column from Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,I,C-Canandaigua)
June 25, 2010
Say this for Albany and our dysfunctional state government: at least it is consistent! As of this week, there are now two missed deadlines to report on. First, the 2010-11 State Budget – which was due back on April 1 – is now, are you ready for this? – 86 days past due. For over seven weeks, Albany has dithered and delayed while stuck in denial about the new fiscal reality the Empire State faces: a $9.2 billion budget deficit, local taxes that are 79 percent higher than the national average and over 800,000 New Yorkers out of work. Any surplus is long gone and been replaced by chronic shortfall, while generational theft has robbed younger New Yorkers of the brighter fiscal future they deserve. Second, the overtime clock is now ticking on the Assembly’s “extended” session. The last officially scheduled session day was supposed to be Monday June 21. Like so many of Albany’s deadlines, this too came and went. Every day past June 21 costs taxpayers more money as they shoulder the costs of keeping our state Legislature convened. Keep in mind that these are the very same taxpayers already suffering from a state spending plan not being enacted months ago. DIFFERENT SONG, SAME TUNE: HIGHER TAXES Regular readers of my weekly column already are well aware of my opposition to last year’s bad budget and how its $8.5 billion in job-killing taxes and fees, along with an unsustainable 10 percent hike in government spending, put us on a collision course with financial disaster. It’s the hardworking folks of New York State who are paying the price – and then some. Exactly how – and how much – we will be paying remains to be seen. Only Governor Paterson and the Majority leadership knows at this point what additional financial hardships will be borne by New York’s businesses and middle-class families. I’m referring to the folks down the street, the people you know, who are working longer and harder but struggling to make ends meet because of New York’s crushing costs, high taxes and runaway fees. The school year may have just ended but, if the whispered sales tax on clothing is enacted, families could be faced with higher taxes on clothing in the months to come. Remember, all of this is on top of the billions in tax and fee hikes that were rammed through last year. CHANGE IS NEVER EASY – BUT IT CAN HAPPEN Before I entered public service, I ran manufacturing companies in the private sector, so I can say with complete confidence that if a business was run in the same inept way state government is, it would be out of business – fast. As anyone who runs a successful business, farm, or household knows, you don’t spend more than you earn. And you certainly don’t spend and then demand someone else pay for it. But that is precisely what happens in Albany. However, despite all the problems, all the challenges, there is a glimmer of hope. Even in a state government as broken as ours, reform can happen, change is possible. The key is not to quit, but to keep fighting. It begins by convening a “People’s Constitutional Convention” that empowers taxpayers to take back their state government. To learn more, visit www.reformny.org – while you’re there, sign the petition. BEING NAMED A “HERO OF REFORM” As bad as things are in Albany, there are many people and good-government groups hard at work to reform it. That’s why I was honored to be recognized this week by one of them: “NY Uprising,” a non-partisan, independent good government coalition founded by former New York City Mayor Ed Koch. They awarded me their “Hero of Reform” Seal of Approval. Earlier this year, I signed their three reform pledges in the areas of independent redistricting, ethical government and responsible budgeting. I also signed the New York Public Interest Research Group’s (NYPIRG) “Pledge for Change” and will work with anyone committed to fixing state government. In the meantime, I, along with our Assembly Minority Conference, will continue championing the non-partisan cause of real reform. Here’s how:
- Advancing non-partisan legislation and continuing to hold public Town Halls across the state to build support for a non-partisan “People’s Convention to Reform New York” that would empower taxpayers to take back their state government;
- Sponsoring and supporting legislation to enact term limits for Legislative Leaders and legislators; protecting families with a property tax cap; imposing a state spending cap to restore fiscal accountability; and establishing procedures for “initiative, referendum and recall,” which grants taxpayers the ability to vote to create laws, repeal laws and remove elected officials; and
- Championing bi-partisan ethics reform legislation to move New York State’s government another step closer toward having the toughest ethics laws in the nation.