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Late Budget Frustrating, But Improved Since April 1

By State Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine

This year’s legislative session has certainly had its share of frustrations, especially in regard to the state budget. With the vast majority of the budget completed, the end is in sight and I am looking forward to closing the process down.

Yet even among the frustrations, it becomes clearer every day that holding out has benefitted Central and Northern New York. Now with the end in sight, the battle continues to ensure we do not fall back on the progress we have made, especially in regard to taxes. We need to push forward and stand strong in opposition to new taxes as the Senate has all throughout this process.

We’ve stayed the course together.

A proposed tax on sugared beverages would double the cost of a two-liter bottle of soda, add several dollars to powdered drink mix, and even raise the price of chocolate milk. Some have argued that this would help curb obesity, but the reality is that this proposal was put forth as a revenue generator and not for public health. Working families throughout this region and this state cannot afford to pay more, when so many are already struggling to make ends meet.

A gross receipts tax on hospitals would have put the pinch on health care in this state, at a time when we have been forced to consider cuts that would trim Medicaid benefits and slow the rate of increase for hospital reimbursements to balance the state budget. This tax would result in cutbacks at hospitals and lengthen unemployment lines while jeopardizing care. These are taxes that would hit working class families the hardest.

Unlike the lower house of the Legislature, I have been joined by my colleagues in the Senate in making a commitment to job creation and property tax relief for the people of Central and Northern New York and taxpayers throughout the state. We’ve done this by offering legislation to put a cap on property taxes and on your individual property tax bill through a circuit breaker. Likewise, we have twice passed legislation I sponsored to create a permanent successor to Power for Jobs.

We need property tax relief. We pay some of the highest tax rates in the nation right here in Central and Northern New York. Ideally, this relief must come through an income based rebate program and a property tax cap, done in unison with corrections to the state aid formula so low wealth school districts can continue to provide our students with a quality education. However, I support taking up any of these measures individually to ensure we get the ball moving when for too long we’ve seen our property taxes increase.

Property tax relief will help foster job growth, but we need to do more. These efforts includes the new Excelsior program which has passed and will help get new economy projects up and running, along with a permanent and improved version of Power for Jobs that will not only help preserve hundreds of thousands of jobs statewide, but help create new ones. Energize New York is that successor and has passed the Senate with widespread bipartisan approval and has the support of both the governor and the business community from Long Island to Watertown, Buffalo to Albany. We are all waiting for action in the Assembly.

By working together and rejecting the budget available on April 1, we will have passed a budget that rejects onerous taxes, the shutdown of parks and historic sites, and the closure of our correctional facilities. Now, as taxpayers, we can all stand together and push for these critical job creation and property tax relief measures.

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