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Lowering Energy Costs Creates Job Growth, Not New Taxes

By Assemblyman Will Barclay (R-Pulaski)

When policy makers talk about job growth, there are varying opinions on how to go about achieving this goal. In recent months, we witnessed federal stimulus dollars of historic proportions pour into our economy to try to help kick start job creation. The effectiveness of such an infusion of federal tax dollars is questionable. I believe the best thing we can do for businesses is to lower their costs of doing business.

I hear from businesses all the time how the cost of doing business in New York hurts them. The basis for these sentiments stems from taxes. Energy is a prime example. No business can operate without electricity. However, it is taxed beyond reason. New York’s energy taxes are the highest in the nation.

According to New York’s Emerging Energy Crossroads, a publication recently released by the New York Independent Systems Operator, for every $1 New Yorkers spent on electricity, $.26 went to state and local taxes, assessments and fees in 2009—a fourth of the entire electricity bill. Power companies are by no means exempt from New York’s crippling taxes and many of those costs are passed down to consumers. The power industry paid an estimated $6.367 billion in state and local taxes, assessments and fees in 2009. This in it of itself was a 15 percent increase over the $5.5 billion collected in 2008 thanks to an energy assessment fee the state passed in 2009. Though I voted against this in the Assembly, this is one of those fees that passed in our abominable budget last year. People and businesses are now seeing the results of this on their electricity bills.

This is just one of many reasons the three-men-in-a-room budget processes is problematic. The budget is decided behind closed doors, presented to lawmakers at the last minute and called on for a vote. Such was the case last year. Where we should have cut spending, taxes and fees were raised instead.

I’m also concerned about this year’s budget process. The piecemeal emergency spending bills put up for vote by the Governor week after week are determining fates for all New Yorkers—from hospitals, to schools, to roadways, to recreation. Every emergency spending bill has passed in the Democratic-controlled houses so far and has been signed by the Governor. We need our leaders to abide by the law, hold joint conference committee meetings, and keep the doors open on leaders’ meetings so we can have a budget that represents what’s not only healthy for our state but what New Yorkers want. We also need the Democratic-majority members of each house to put pressure on their house-elected leaders and ensure that those leaders—the people who carry the majority of the state’s agenda—represent our best interests. Our future in jobs and a healthy economy depends on it.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office. My office can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.