By Michael H. Ranzenhofer
New York State is one step closer to having a budget passed on schedule for a second year in a row, after the State Senate and State Assembly passed separate one-house budget resolutions last week.
Last year, I partnered with Governor Cuomo and the State Assembly to pass a State Budget which reduced spending for the first time in 15 years. It is imperative that the State Legislature continue to make good on the progress from last year.
On Monday, the State Senate passed a one-house budget plan focused on fiscal responsibility and job creation. The budget plan closes a $2 billion budget deficit and spends slightly less than the Executive Budget. The Senate plan includes measures aimed at putting the State’s fiscal house in order, including a two percent State spending cap; enacting a moratorium on new taxes and fees; and requiring a super-majority vote to increase taxes.
As I stated in my January column, creating jobs and promoting economic development are at the top of the to-do list for 2012. The critical goal for this year should be ensuring Albany supports policies which lower the cost of doing business in New York State as a way to encourage private-sector companies to locate and create jobs in Western New York. Towards that end, a comprehensive job creation initiative is a major cornerstone of the plan.
Some of the plan’s highlights include:
• Reducing the corporate tax rate for small businesses from 6.5 to 5.2 percent for savings of $65 million to 200,000 small businesses
• A 10 percent tax cut for 800,000 small businesses paying the personal income tax for savings of $120 million
• Accelerating the expiration of a 500% energy tax increase to aide energy-intensive industries, such as manufacturing and agriculture, for $300 million in savings
• Various tax incentives for businesses creating jobs: $5,000 credit for each new job created; $8,000 credit if the job goes to someone on unemployment; and $10,000 credit for hiring a returning military veteran
Lastly, my legislative proposal to restore the STAR rebate check program for senior citizens was also included in the plan. Seniors continue to face rising property taxes while living on a fixed income, making it difficult for them to afford the increased costs of staying in their homes. This legislation would ease that burden by reinstating property tax relief for seniors 65 and over.
Overall, the Senate budget resolution achieves the goals set earlier this year: closing the budget deficit without new taxes and fees, cutting taxes for small businesses and focusing on job creation. I look forward to working with the Governor and Assembly in the days and weeks ahead and getting a new State Budget enacted on schedule, if not ahead of the April 1st deadline.
Senator Ranzenhofer's monthly column appeared in the Amherst, Clarence and Ken-Ton Bees on March 21, 2012.