Monthly Column: State Senate moves budget resolution forward


    By: Michael H. Ranzenhofer


    By passing its one-house budget bill last week, the New York State Senate moved one step closer to a fourth consecutive on-time budget.  The budget resolution controls spending and builds on the progress of the past three years to stabilize the State’s finances.


    The Senate’s budget resolution reduces taxes to help small businesses and manufacturers to create jobs; makes greater investments in education; and provides property tax relief for homeowners.


    The Senate budget expands tax relief for manufacturers and accelerates the elimination of the job-killing 18a-energy tax surcharge (known as the two percent utility tax) on businesses so they can utilize those savings to hire new workers and grow.


    Homeowners would see tax relief, too.  The Senate budget allocates $1.4 billion to impose a freeze on property taxes.  It also makes the property tax cap permanent and strengthens the STAR program.  These programs are simpler alternatives to the Governor’s original proposal.


    Lastly, the Senate plan increases investment in education.  Under the plan, state school aid is boosted by $811.9 million.  Under the plan, $541 million of the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) is restored, while completely eradicating the GEA by 2016-2017, for a total restoration of $1.1 billion in education aid.  The GEA is a controversial budget maneuver that has resulted in billions of dollars being unfairly taken away from our children. I continue to oppose this misguided maneuver, and I will push for its elimination.


    I am pleased that the Senate Budget resolution reflects my priorities of reducing taxes, holding the line on spending and investing in education.  Now, the State Senate and State Assembly will convene conference committees to resolve differences between each one of their one-house budget resolutions.  With the State Budget deadline less than two weeks away, I will be certain to keep you up-to-date on new developments.


    Last week, the State Senate and State Assembly convened for a joint session of the State Legislature for an important vote on four Board of Regents candidates. The State Assembly is responsible for nominating candidates for a five-year term.


    On behalf of the thousands of frustrated parents, students and teachers that I represent, I voted against these candidates.  The State Education Department and Board of Regents are responsible for the flawed roll-out of Common Core. I could not, in good conscience, vote to re-elect those members who were in charge.


    Our students deserve better.  The implementation of Common Core has been less than stellar.  I will be working with my colleagues throughout this legislative session to fix this problem so that every child can achieve a bright, successful future in our schools.  As your State Senator, I will continue to stand up for our kids!


    Senator Ranzenhofer's monthly column appeared in the Amherst and Clarence Bee on March 19th.