Senate Majority Fails in Effort to Protect WNY Jobs, says Ranzenhofer


State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer today said efforts to save local jobs were killed when the Senate Majority approved a New York City Democrat plan that hurts local families and our economy.


On Tuesday, the Senate Majority voted for a plan crafted in secret by Gov. Paterson and the NYC-based leaders of the Senate and Assembly that increased taxes on health insurance by a whopping 33 percent—costing the average Western NY family and business hundreds of dollars a year—and diverts money from college tuition hikes and funds that could have been used to save and create new jobs.


The insurance premium tax is expected to have the biggest impact on the region's struggling small businesses, who are responsible for more than half of all private-sector employment in the state and are under increasing strain to make payroll and extend health benefits to their  employees in a challenging economy.


"Instead of closing the budget gap by making real cuts to our massive government bureaucracy, they saddled middle class families with tax hikes disguised as higher health care premiums and college tuition hikes. But worst of all, they raided funds that could have been used to provide more locally produced, low-cost power to create and save jobs right here in Western NY."


"They basically just made it more expensive to be an average, hardworking family living in Western New York.  As a new Senator, I was surprised that any Upstate Senator could back the New York City plan, instead of standing together for Western New York," he said.


Among the most harmful elements of the Majority's plan was to take $476 million from the New York Power Authority (NYPA), the agency that administers "Power for Jobs" and other low-cost power programs that help protect thousands of jobs in our region.


Ranzenhofer said he had hoped that the entire WNY Senate delegation would put partisan politics aside and stand together to advocate for the region's needs but that an agreement failed to materialize. Instead, the State Senate's new Democrat Majority passed the plan developed in secret by Governor David Paterson, Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.


"From General Mills to Fisher Price to GEICO, NYPA's low-cost energy programs have helped protect thousands of jobs in our region. And being able to offer companies low-cost power is an essential component of our ability to attract new companies and get our families back to work," he said.


The Senate majority plan also grabs 90 percent of the recent hike in tuition for students at UB and other state schools for budget relief, rather than for the intended purpose of improving higher education.


"Instead of using tuition dollars to pay for textbooks, teachers and technology that our young people will need to be successful in college and beyond,  the Majority voted to use that money to pay for more wasteful spending," Ranzenhofer said. "But families are already struggling to pay tuition and other costs of higher education, without seeing their money being taken for other purposes."