Monthly Column: Positive actions taken in 2012 to benefit taxpayers, local residents
By: Michael H. Ranzenhofer
In the past year, the State Legislature has taken a number of important actions and enacted numerous laws to benefit taxpayers all across the State and many local residents in Western New York.
So, as 2012 draws to a close, I would like to highlight some of the legislative proposals, as well as state and local issues, that I have been focused on during the last 12 months.
State Budget passed on-time again. The budget closed a $13 billion budget gap by reducing overall expenditures, instead of imposing new taxes or fees. The budget also continued to honor the Middle Class Tax Cut and Job Creation plan passed last December, including a tax cut for over 5,000 Upstate manufacturers and 4.4 million middle-class taxpayers.
EPIC funding for seniors restored. As part of budget negotiations, I fought to restore $30.6 million to the EPIC program. The State Budget should have never been balanced on the backs of our seniors. Starting in January 2013, the funding restoration will ensure that most seniors will once again have more affordable access to the vital prescription drugs they need.
New law established clinical settings at Daemen College. As a result of a bill I introduced in the State Senate, and that has since been signed into law by the Governor, Daemen will be able to provide new clinical settings for physical therapy students, while giving local residents another opportunity to receive affordable, quality health care.
More transportation funds for WNY. Over the last few years, our region has received the short end of the stick when it comes to funding for infrastructure projects. Along with other members of the WNY Delegation, I secured an additional $143 million for DOT Region 5, ensuring a fairer approach and better regional balance to the allocation of transportation dollars.
Pension reform: Tier VI created. The costs of pensions are spiraling out of control, increasing for local governments at a rate of 650 percent over the past ten years. Changes had to be made to the current system. That is why I am pleased that the State Legislature enacted pension reform to save State and local governments $80 billion over the next 30 years.
New and improved ReChargeNY program. The ReCharge NY program has helped to create or retain more than 27,000 jobs and spur billions of dollars in capital investment at almost 100 businesses and not-for-profit organizations in Western New York.
While more action is still needed to help improve our State’s business climate, strengthen our local economy and create jobs, I am pleased to report progress has been made in 2012 on many issues. As I continue to work for you in the State Senate, I want to wish you and your entire family happy holidays and a healthy, prosperous New Year!
Senator Ranzenhofer's monthly column appeared in the Amherst, Clarence & Ken-Ton Bees on December 19.