Tenney Votes For Middle-Class Tax Cut, But Says Extraordinary Session ĎA Wasted Opportunityí

Legislative Column from Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney (R,C,I-New Hartford)
December 8, 2011
For the first time in a generation, the Legislature has passed a tax cut for the middle class. While I am proud to have been able to vote in the affirmative for this measure, like many of the residents I represent, I believe this extraordinary session was a wasted opportunity.

At significant taxpayer expense, the governor convened a special session and essentially asked lawmakers, who had no opportunity to negotiate the bill or review it before being asked to vote, to rubber stamp this proposal for the sake of providing tax relief. This tax relief, although an important first step, is estimated to provide average New York State families, earning the median state income of $55,000 annually, roughly $3 per week in savings (or $160 per year). While a middle-class tax cut is essential, this proposal could have waited until the regular legislative session starts in three weeks.

This extraordinary session missed a real opportunity to discuss, debate and vote on meaningful incentives that will ensure New Yorkers have better career opportunities or make a substantial improvement to their quality of life. In fact, as counties, schools and other local governments across the state are struggling to adjust their budgets in light of the property tax cap, this extraordinary session failed to address providing any unfunded mandate relief. Thatís why I was proud that our Conference proposed two amendments tonight to the governorís legislation: the first would impose a state spending cap and the second would have enacted a freeze on Medicaid spending (Medicaid is the largest unfunded mandate imposed on local governments).

Despite our attempts to amend the governorís legislation, the downstate-led Assembly Majority voted against us. We did restore funding for the displaced homemaker program and the child care facilitated enrollment program, and approved funds desperately needed for flood relief.

I will continue to fight on behalf of the taxpayers of this state, to provide meaningful tax relief, real job creation and substantial reforms that will address the root causes behind the stateís "tax-and-spend" addiction: controlling excessive state spending and eliminating the outdated, unnecessary and costly unfunded mandates pushed onto the backs of our local communities.