With the 2015-16 New York State Budget season upon us, some of us are focused on providing Long Island with meaningful relief by reducing the tax burden and cutting costs for small business. I am making the argument to improve our quality of life by reducing state mandates to improve economic growth and increase job opportunities. This year’s budget must do the same.
According to a report by the non-partisan Tax Foundation, Nassau and Suffolk counties are second and twelfth, respectively, on a list that ranks counties with the highest median property taxes paid on homes in the United States. For too long, Albany has been pressing state-mandated programs on localities with the expectation that they pay the bill, which ultimately increases our property taxes. I have long been fighting to pass legislation that will ease tax burdens on our residents and move us downward on this list. I sponsor legislation that provides property tax relief for homeowners by putting limits on school district tax levies and requiring the state to fund mandated programs for school districts (A.2701). I also sponsor legislation that extends a property tax exemption to our disabled military veterans who can no longer be self-supporting in an effort to lessen their financial burden (A.3127).
My objective is to make Long Island affordable for our residents to remain here while making it attractive for businesses to grow here. We must create an environment for employment opportunities on Long Island. To do that, we need to cut costs for employers. We can start by addressing the governor’s plan to increase the state minimum wage yet again. It is already set to increase for the third time in three years. Increasing the state minimum wage will drive small-business owners to reduce their work forces to better afford the remaining staff.
As part of his Executive Budget proposal, the governor proposed a small-business tax cut that, despite sounding good, provides no help to the vast majority of small businesses. Because the stipulations of this tax cut are so narrow, it will only benefit 2.5 percent of the 1.7 million small businesses in our state. That is not true relief.
Recently, Albany’s response to provide relief to our residents has been to jeopardize the safety, principles and morals of our communities by authorizing video lottery machines (AKA gambling) on Long Island against the will of our communities. Instead of cutting costs and spending, Albany has pursued harmful alternative revenue sources like gambling and speed cameras. Increased gambling in Nassau and Suffolk counties will lead to rising crime and social problems. In fact, a U.S. Department of Justice report shows that one-third of arrestees identified as pathological gamblers have admitted to committing robbery, and that 13 percent of those individuals have assaulted someone for money to support their gambling habit. To stop this from happening in our communities, I have recently introduced new legislation (A.5187) to rescind the authorization for video lottery gaming terminals in both Nassau and Suffolk counties.
There is only one way that Albany can provide real assistance to the residents of Long Island: cut taxes, enact effective legislation that will help businesses grow, increase the number of available private sector jobs, and focus on cost reduction – not alternative revenue sources. This is the only path toward true, meaningful tax relief on Long Island.