"What Albany Isn't Telling You"
Legislative column from Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,I,C-Canandaigua)
July 16, 2010
On July 1, after months of delay, closed-door meetings and failure to abide by the Budget Act of 2007, the Assembly Majority passed the final piece of the 2010-11 State Budget. However, the final budget still is not enacted because the Senate Majority left town before the July 4th weekend and have yet to return and finish the job they were elected to do. Frustrated taxpayers are tired of reading story after story about this historic dysfunction in Albany. They are tired of having to scrimp and save while the Majorities boldly disregard the most basic of household rules: you don’t spend beyond your means. Our job as legislators is to develop a fiscally responsible financial plan that protects hardworking families, not one that continues to crush livelihoods, small businesses and New York’s pioneer spirit. As I asked in the final Legislative Leaders’ Meeting, where is the work on property tax caps, a state spending cap, relief from unfunded mandates on towns and communities? Where are the things that will relieve the burden on over-taxed families and help New York flourish as the Empire State again? TRUTH IS IN THE NUMBERS If the Senate Majority does return and pass the revenue bill, this year’s budget will raise taxes and fees by $1.5 billion. Small businesses and families will have to bear these new expenses on top of last year’s record of more than $8 billion in tax increases. Folks, that is an astounding $10 billion in two years! Of the $1.5 billion in this year’s increase, the revenue bill alone contains $878 million in tax increases and only $9 million in tax cuts. While the Legislative Leaders send out press release after press release about the great strides made this year, basic math proves it just doesn’t add up and taxpayers will be left to foot the bill. CLOTHING TAX WILL HIT NEW YORK FAMILIES THE HARDEST The biggest tax increase in this year’s budget will literally be shouldered by New York’s families. Starting October 1st, sales tax will be reinstated on clothing and footwear items costing less than $110 per item, just in time for children needing new winter jackets for school. Of the $878 million in tax increases in the revenue bill, $330 million is attributable to the reinstatement of this sales tax alone. That means instead of cutting costs, the Assembly Majority thinks it’s acceptable to ask hardworking New Yorkers to pay an extra $330 million just to clothe their families. That is grossly unacceptable. They should be tightening their own belts instead of taxing yours. CAN NEW YORK STATE BE TRUSTED TO KEEP ITS PROMISES? New York State desperately needs economic development initiatives to bring new employment opportunities to our communities and keep businesses that already provide quality jobs here in New York. A proposed deferral of tax credits will cost businesses more than $2 billion in out-of- pocket tax payments from 2010 to 2014. This move sends the wrong message to our private sector, the true job creators. At a time when Albany should be doing everything it can to help strengthen our businesses, the Majorities are sending a clear message that New York State government cannot be trusted to keep its word when it comes to economic development tax credits. REAL SOLUTIONS BEGIN WITH A “PEOPLE’S CONVENTION TO REFORM NY” In addition to a fiscally responsible State Budget, much work remains to be done in Albany. The cuts that the legislature made are clearly not large enough to bring spending under control and eliminate future budget gaps. The economic development programs that passed the legislature are seen as “too little too late” by far too many former New York businesses owners. The Majority-controlled legislature also failed to reach agreement on a permanent low-cost power program, or on another one-year extender of the existing Power for Jobs program. These are the reasons why I continue to champion for a “People’s Convention to Reform New York.” The People’s Convention to Reform New York is a grassroots, non-partisan reform effort to empower citizens so they can take back their state government and chart a positive, new direction for New York’s families and businesses. If the process were open to the public, taxpayers wouldn’t have to worry about what Albany isn’t telling them – they’d already know! 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 email@example.com. You also can follow me on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and informational updates regarding state government and our Assembly Minority Conference.