Here We Go Again: Assembly Majority Wants More Taxes And Increased Government Spending
Legislative column from Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,I,C-Canandaigua)
March 18, 2011
In the movie “Groundhog Day,” Bill Murray’s character finds himself inexplicably trapped in a time warp, continually forced to relive the same agonizing day over and over. You could easily apply this setting to the past week at our State Capitol, as the Assembly Majority released a sequel that would put any Groundhog Day remake to shame. With any luck though, their tax-and-spend sequel will bomb at the box office as New Yorkers reject their latest push for more taxes and increased spending that included none of the structural reforms to state government that I have long championed. “RETURN OF THE TAX AND SPENDERS” – NEW YORKERS HAVE SEEN THIS MOVIE BEFORE Tuesday afternoon, the Assembly Majority advanced their one-house budget resolution. Typically, these one-house resolutions give an overall sense of the Majority in either House of the State Legislature as to their spending and taxing priorities. In turn, those priorities are translated into specific policies – as well as dollars and cents – and directly reflected in the Assembly Majority’s budget bills (the State Budget is actually a series of several budget bills) that must be enacted by New York’s fiscal deadline of April 1. Keep in mind that this deadline is a mere 13 days away as I write this weekly column. Tick tock. In a very real sense, budget resolutions are important documents as they help set the tone and tenor of state spending plan deliberations to come. Most important, they provide a crystal clear example of the respective Majority Conferences’ specific public policy priorities – along with their prescriptions to cure what is ailing New York. TWO THUMBS DOWN: ASSEMBLY MAJORITY’S BUDGET RESOLUTION WAS MORE OF THE SAME I was disappointed – but not surprised – that the Assembly Majority’s one-house budget resolution ended up being more of the same: more taxes, more spending, more of a continuation of the fiscal irresponsibility that caused New York’s ongoing fiscal crisis. Instead of putting on a tired sequel, the Majority could have offered something original, taken a fresh approach and offered real solutions to meet New York’s challenges, as our Assembly Minority Conference and I have continually done. Regrettably, this was not the case. The Assembly Majority’s one-house budget resolution failed to address the inescapable reality that our state government does not have a revenue problem – it has a spending problem, one that would make even the most spendthrift Hollywood studio blush. Frankly, unless something is done to get New York’s spending problem under control – and enact long overdue structural reforms to costly programs like Medicaid – it won’t matter how much revenue is available because the Albany politicians will ALWAYS find a way to spend it. Likewise, doing something about state government’s unfunded mandates that are the principal cost drivers for municipalities and school districts must be a top priority. By failing to seize this latest opportunity to advance real reform, the Assembly Majority’s one-house budget resolution would make New York’s financial problems even worse. The Majority’s proposal:
- Increased taxes by $4.9 billon, including a new “Baby Tax,” which is a surcharge on obstetricians that hospitals will ultimately pass on to their patients;
- Extended for another year the “Success Tax” (a.k.a. the “Millionaire’s Tax”), a personal income surcharge that, as I wrote last week, would destroy more private sector jobs, hurt small businesses and further erode our economic competitiveness;
- Delivered ZERO unfunded mandate relief for local governments and school districts that are struggling under the weight of Albany’s costly rules, regulations and endless paperwork requirements; and
- Failed to include any cap on skyrocketing property taxes for overtaxed homeowners who pay some of the highest rates in the nation.