As legislators prepare for the second half of the legislative session, it is vital we address the failures of the recently-passed budget. With nowhere near enough help for middle-class families, and a major swing-and-miss on ethics reform and education, there is much left to accomplish. I remain dedicated to advancing measures that will improve the tax and business climate, create jobs and ensure our children get the education they deserve.
SMART SOLUTIONS OFFERED NEEDED HELP
There were a number of amendments to the budget offered by the Assembly Minority Conference that would have helped New Yorkers across the board, but were unfortunately rejected on the floor. The Small Business Full Employment Act would cut taxes and provide mandate relief to help create jobs and grow the economy. We also pushed for a permanent middle-class tax cut and elimination of state sales tax on gasoline and a number of other everyday products. Part of the Assembly Minority’s plan for all New Yorkers also included the:
- Establishment of the Division of Regulatory Review & Economic Growth to cut red tape that holds businesses back;
- Move toward a state takeover of the local cost of Medicaid within the next five years;
- Immediate repeal of the 18-A tax to cut utility bills; and
- Merging of the Thruway Authority with the Department of Transportation to cut costs.
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY
There are some pieces of the 2015-16 Enacted Budget that the Assembly Minority Conference is proud to have helped pass for New Yorkers. We are glad to see a $603 million restoration to the Gap Elimination Adjustment, an increase in aid for community college students, and a $4.2 million increase in farming local assistance. However, too many common-sense solutions were left out of the spending plan.
The budget woefully missed the mark on addressing Common Core and will force another round of pointless tests on students in the coming weeks. The ethics package that passed leaves the door wide open for loopholes, and does nothing to address leadership term limits and pension removal for convicted legislators. The winners-and-losers approach to upstate development falls far short of the broad stimulation New York needs, and again there is no unfunded mandate relief to ease the burden of the state’s outrageous property taxes. No permanent tax relief for the middle class was included, despite credits for luxury yacht owners and Hollywood elites.
Without addressing the root problems in our economy, we will be having the same conversations about the misguided direction of New York next budget season. Until New Yorkers get the financial relief they need, an education policy that will prepare our future leaders, and ethics reform that will provide transparency and accountability that we can all be proud of, there remains much work to be done.
What do you think? I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, email me at email@example.com, find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter.