The Way Forward To Prosperity: Cap State Spending, Reform The Tax Code, Ban Unfunded Mandates, Get Moving On Private Sector Job Creation

July 22, 2011

Much of the news these past few weeks has focused on our nation’s capitol
with its heated back-and-forth discussions about raising the nation’s debt
limit, passing real spending cuts and enacting structural reforms to
programs that will finally bring the federal budget back into balance. As
expected, a great deal of the “debt debate” in Washington has been dominated
by partisan politics and political rhetoric.

NEW YORK NEEDS AN ADULT CONVERSATION ABOUT FISCAL REALITY

What seems to have gotten lost in Washington’s partisan squabbling is the
genuine need to restore fiscal sanity at ALL levels of government. Here in
New York State, I genuinely believe that we need an adult conversation about
getting our Empire State back on track and headed toward long-term financial
health. This journey begins – and ends – with restoring fiscal
accountability that will lead to a stronger, more affordable and prosperous
New York State.

While the 2011-12 State Budget achieved some progress on this front, New
York State still faces massive financial challenges. Those challenges are
not far off on some distant horizon – they are right here, today, and are as
follows:

a.. State government still spends too much;
b.. New York’s tax code is too confusing, complex and costly for taxpayers
and businesses and acts as a disincentive to private sector job creation;
c.. Albany continues to pass its buck – along with its costs – onto the
backs of local governments and school districts leading to higher property
taxes; and
d.. Our economy remains stuck in neutral and there are not enough
good-paying private sector jobs to keep our kids here.

Fortunately, there is a real solution to every problem – and solving New
York’s financial problems are no exception. I believe that the solutions
are straightforward: cap state spending; reform New York’s tax code so it is
fairer and flatter; prevent Albany from continuing to pass unfunded
mandates, and remove regulatory barriers to private sector jobs creation.

CAP STATE SPENDING

New York State government does not have a revenue problem, it has a spending
problem. Case in point: over the past decade, state spending has risen by
nearly 50 percent!

Without question, Albany must learn how to live within its means and stop
spending more than it takes in. Liberal politicians in Albany always
promise to cut spending but we all know what those promises are worth. The
true solution requires enacting a state spending cap that imposes fiscal
discipline on Albany. I have introduced legislation – Assembly Bill
A.5370 – that would establish a cap limiting the growth of state spending to
no more than the average rate of inflation of the three previous calendar
years. This cap will make fiscal accountability a reality and prevent
Albany from continuing to run up the public credit card.

REFORM NEW YORK’S TAX CODE

New York’s tax code is nearly six thousand pages long and requires an
advanced degree in accounting, economics and the law to comprehend fully.
It is no exaggeration to say that our state’s complex, complicated and
costly tax code is a major disincentive to job creation. Businesses look to
other states with less complicated tax codes that do not penalize earnings,
savings, investment and innovation the way New York does. We need to move
forward with real tax reform that leads to a simpler, fairer and flatter tax
code resulting in lower tax rates for everyone. Fixing New York’s tax code
will reduce tax rates for families and businesses and it’s what President
Reagan achieved as part of bi-partisan tax reform during his administration.
Our economy would benefit as real tax reform could unleash a wave of private
sector job creation.

BAN ALBANY’S UNFUNDED MANDATES

Whenever Albany tells local governments to do something – start a program,
provide a service, meet a perceived need – and doesn’t provide any funding,
that is an “unfunded mandate.” The increased costs caused by unfunded
mandates are absorbed by local governments and school districts and lead to
increased local property taxes for homeowners. I have introduced two
legislative initiatives – Assembly Bills A.4811 and A.8447 – that would
place a permanent moratorium on certain unfunded state mandates imposed on
local governments and school districts; require fiscal notes on bills
stating the estimated annual costs to affected communities; and create the
“Unfunded Mandate Reform Plan” to identify unfunded mandates that need to be
repealed. My bills would target unfunded mandates and stop Albany’s
continued cost shift.

REMOVE BARRIERS TO PRIVATE SECTOR JOB CREATION

As we wait for Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Councils to
get moving, almost 800,000 unemployed New Yorkers continue hurting. We need
to get Albany’s focus back where it needs to be: jobs, jobs, jobs. This
means removing regulatory barriers to private sector job creation and
transforming State Agencies so they work with, instead of against, job
creators and support the job-creation environment New Yorkers have been
demanding.

Capping spending, reforming the tax code, banning Albany’s unfunded
mandates, and removing regulatory barriers to private sector job creation –
these are common sense steps that we can, and should, take to move New York
forward and increase prosperity here in the Empire State. We already know
the problems; now is the time for Albany to get moving on real solutions!

As always, constituents wishing to discuss this topic or any other
state-related matter should contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, or
e-mail me at kolbb@assembly.state.ny.us. You can also follow me on Facebook
and Twitter for the latest news and informational updates regarding state
government and our Assembly Minority Conference.

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