New Budget Helps Western New York

Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer

April 19, 2017

The final budget contains many positive initiatives for our community.

Senator Ranzenhofer's column appeared in the Amherst and Clarence Bees on April 19th

For months now, I have been working diligently to enact a state fiscal plan that will help residents all across Western New York. The 2017-18 State Budget that I just voted to approve will accomplish this goal in many ways.

The final budget contains many positive initiatives for our community. Overall, the new budget maintains fiscal discipline, makes New York more affordable, expands ride-sharing services to Western New York and invests in our local infrastructure.

The plan advances fiscal discipline by limiting spending growth to 2 percent or less for the seventh year in a row. This self-imposed spending cap has saved taxpayers approximately $41 billion.

The final budget rejects hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax-and-fee increases proposed by Governor Cuomo. The new budget also blocks another Executive Budget proposal to cap the amount of property tax savings through the STAR program.

Controlling spending and rejecting new taxes protects taxpayers. Simply put, New Yorkers pay enough in taxes already. Throughout the budget process, my focus has been to lower taxes, not raise them.

The new budget provides new tax relief measures, including:
•    Enacting the most significant workers’ compensation reform in over a decade, reducing $700 million in costs for businesses, municipalities and not-for-profits;
•    Protecting a major tax cut, enacted last year, of more than $4 billion to help millions of middle-class families and thousands of small businesses; and
•    Delivering $3.6 billion in property tax relief through STAR, Enhanced STAR and other programs. 

Each one of these tax relief initiatives will put more of taxpayers’ hard-earned money back in their pockets, strengthen our economy and create new jobs.

I have been leading the charge to bring transportation network companies to Western New York. As you may recall, I have voted two years in a row for legislation in the State Senate, and I launched a petition in December last year to encourage Governor Cuomo and the State Assembly to adopt this legislation.

For years now, Upstate New Yorkers have been left behind. Many residents have been demanding this new transportation option. It is long overdue.

I am pleased to report that, under the final plan, ride-sharing services will be arriving in our region this summer. Providing access to ride-sharing services will create thousands of new jobs, reduce drunk driving deaths and boost small businesses and tourism spending. 

Lastly, the new budget delivers Upstate’s fair share of state transportation dollars by committing a $1.5 billion boost to accelerate infrastructure projects and a $65 million increase for local road, highway and bridge repairs. This funding will help to improve the condition of our infrastructure.

From lowering taxes to expanding ride-sharing, I have been fighting for Western New York. The new 2017-18 State Budget is a victory for our residents!