Have You Had Enough Yet?
Legislative column from Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,I,C-Canandaigua)
July 2, 2010
“Have you had enough yet?” That is the simple, straightforward question I want to ask regular readers of this weekly column. It also needs to be posed to all New York taxpayers who are concerned about the troubling direction of our state and are ready for real change. I want to know if you have “had enough” of high taxes, runaway spending, chronic unemployment, a crushing cost of living, an underperforming economy and a broken state government that is not working for taxpayers? In short, have you had enough of Albany’s “business as usual” that puts the special interests first and the taxpayers last? Have you had enough of paying some of the nation’s highest property, business and income taxes? Have you had enough of late State Budgets and a dysfunctional process that allows New York’s annual spending plan to be derailed for 92 days? Have you had enough of a secretive, closed-door budget process where New York’s budget is decided by three men in a room – the Governor, Senate Majority Leader and Assembly Speaker – without any input or oversight from taxpayers, Members of the Minority Conferences or the media? I, for one, have had enough. I believe that millions of New Yorkers also have had enough. After learning about all the taxes and fees the Assembly Majority passed late last night, I know taxpayers will have had more than enough. BUDGET WILL CONTAIN $1.45 BILLION IN TAXES, FEES AND REVENUES Last night, after 92 days of inaction, delay and gridlock, the last two remaining budget bills comprising the 2010-11 State Budget were passed in the Assembly. One of those bills was the revenue bill – this is the legislation containing the taxes, fees and revenues imposed by state government. If you had enough of the $8.5 billion in job-killing taxes and fees in last year’s spending plan, then you need to know the bill they enacted contained approximately $1.45 billion in higher taxes on everything from clothing, to credit cards, to cigarettes. Those increased taxes and fees will force taxpayers and businesses to dig even deeper into their pockets and considerably drive up the cost of living in the Empire State. BUDGET WILL NOT INCLUDE A PROPERTY TAX CAP OR STATE SPENDING CAP Particularly troubling, the bill did not contain a property tax cap, which means homeowners’ local property tax bills will keep rising. It did not have a state spending cap, which means taxpayers will pay more for government’s growing costs. It did not ban unfunded mandates – Albany dictating programs and policies to local governments without paying for them – which will result in higher village, town and county taxes. Additionally, the bill did not provide debt reform, nor did it permanently reauthorize the Power for Jobs program or enact a real plan to create private sector jobs. All of these are agenda items that I have advocated for since last year, as their enactment would make our state a less costly, more affordable place to live, work, raise a family or start a business. BUDGET DID NOT DO ENOUGH TO SHRINK THE SIZE AND COST OF STATE GOVERNMENT The bill not only failed to reduce the size and cost of state government, it actually spends more than last year! It also could lead to a potential $1 billion hole in the State Budget by counting on federal Medicaid funds that may not come through. The need to reduce government spending is perfectly clear: over the past decade, state spending grew by nearly 70 percent – if it had merely kept pace with the rate of inflation since 1999, the budget would be $18.5 billion lower. After this budget becomes law, our state government will still be too big, too costly and spend too much of the taxpayer’s money. ANOTHER BAD PROCESS PRODUCES ANOTHER BAD BUDGET – HAVE YOU HAD ENOUGH YET? The revenue bill is the last part of another bad budget crafted through another bad process. New Yorkers who have had enough and are ready for change need to remember that when they had a chance the Majorities in both houses failed to do their jobs and completely disregarded suggestions offered by our Assembly Minority Conference long before the State Budget was even due. Taxpayers already are at the breaking point and the 2010-11 State Budget only pushes them further into the red, through higher taxes, more spending and a continuation of the nickel-and-diming of New Yorkers. So, I’ll ask you again… have you had enough yet? 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. You also can follow me on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and informational updates regarding state government and our Assembly Minority Conference.