Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,I,C-Batavia) today challenged Assembly leaders to pass five key tax cuts before the 2006 legislative session ends on Thursday.
“We are running out of time,” said Hawley. “Taxpayers in this state have reached a breaking point. We need to enact meaningful tax relief to reverse the trend of businesses, young people and families vacating New York because the cost of living is too high.”
Hawley pointed to a recent finding by the Public Policy Institute that says New Yorkers pay the highest state and local taxes in the nation, a staggering 53 percent above the national average.
“For me, tax cuts have been a priority since my first day in Albany,” said Hawley. “Our conference has led the fight throughout this legislative session for tax relief on a variety of fronts. But more needs to be done, and time is limited.”
Hawley argues the effects of stifling tax burdens in New York have detrimental effects on the business climate, job growth, citizen retention and homeownership.
Hawley also expressed concern for New York’s future, particularly with the number of college students who graduate from New York schools, then leave for states with lower tax rates and better job opportunities.
“If our best and brightest, the ones who are supposed to lead this state into the future, are leaving for other states, how will we be able to supply businesses with the skilled work force necessary to compete in today’s global economy?” Hawley questioned.
Hawley believes reducing the tax burden on businesses would help increase job availability statewide while giving the state’s young people an opportunity to settle in New York.
The tax-relief package promoted by Hawley and his Conference is targeted toward income, property and business taxes.
Hawley is calling for a $400 million Personal Income Tax reduction that would reduce the tax rate to 6.75 from 6.85 and increase the top income bracket from $40,000 to $60,000.
Hawley also proposes indexing the Basic and Enhanced STAR exemptions to reflect the current inflation rates. This measure would provide taxpayers with an additional $1.75 billion in tax relief.
The plan also includes a Co-STAR program that would provide $285 million in county property tax rebates to seniors and farmers. Hawley said the exemption would be available to seniors who are currently eligible for Enhanced STAR and to farmers who are eligible to receive the Basic STAR exemption.
To keep jobs and businesses from leaving the state, Hawley has proposed the elimination of the Corporate Franchise Tax on manufacturers, saving them more than $500 million annually and helping businesses to better compete in New York. Hawley believes this to be a good start towards retaining good-paying jobs in New York while giving new businesses the incentive to begin operations in New York.
Hawley also supports a Corporate Franchise Tax credit equal to 15 percent of the cost of health insurance premiums paid by small businesses for their employers.
“The current tax structure makes it very difficult for businesses to stay afloat,” said Hawley. “If this state wants to see positive job growth with good-paying jobs, we need to ease the tax burden placed on business owners and manufacturers.”