Monthly Column: 2013-14 State Budget passes on time for third year in a row

 

    By: Michael H. Ranzenhofer

    As your State Senator, I want to report that the third consecutive on-time State Budget has been approved– the first time that has happened in nearly 30 years.  The 2013-14 State Budget is a fiscally balanced plan that closes a billion dollar budget gap by controlling spending.

    The new fiscal plan protects your household budget by avoiding tax increases.  In fact, it reduces, and then eliminates, a tax surcharge on your energy bills.  

    In addition to relief from the phase out of the energy tax surcharge, the budget saves businesses almost $1 billion by reforming workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance programs. The new budget reduces taxes for small businesses under the personal income tax and cuts the corporate tax rate for manufacturers.  As a result, businesses will be in a better position than last year to grow our economy and create jobs.

    Almost all wage earners will stand to benefit from tax relief too.  The budget keeps the middle-class income tax cuts enacted in 2011, keeping rates at their lowest level in 60 years.  Without action taken in this year’s budget process, these tax cuts would have been set to expire in 2014.  These tax rate reductions will continue to provide 4.4 million taxpayers with $707 million in tax relief each year.  

    The final budget restores some of the proposed cuts in education funding, provides the first increase to local governments for road and bridge projects and accelerates Federal Medicaid payments to county governments--all of which should help hold down local property taxes.

    Other key elements of the new fiscal plan include:

    • $1.9 billion in property tax relief through the Basic STAR program
    • Over $1 billion in tax savings for families 
    • Increased investments in SUNY and community colleges

     

    The budget also funds the EPIC prescription drug program, providing 270,000 seniors with help in affording their prescription drugs, and delivers $912 million in property tax relief to senior homeowners as part of the Enhanced STAR program.  

    Overall, this fiscal plan continues to move New York in a positive direction – in contrast to a few years ago when increases in spending and taxes were commonplace and out of control.  

    I will continue to fight for homeowners, families, small businesses, manufacturers and all of the residents in Western New York.  More still needs to be done to lower taxes and make New York State more business friendly.  More action must be taken to improve our economy and spur job creation.  

    That is why, as the 2013-14 Legislative Session continues, I will keep you informed of my efforts to address these and other issues to help our residents and to move our community in the right direction.

    Senator Ranzenhofer's monthly column appeared in the Clarence and Amherst Bee on April 17.