Albany, N.Y., January 11—State Senator Tom O’Mara (R,C,I-Big Flats) responded to the opening of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 11th State of the State message to the Legislature today by again warning that state leaders are already eyeing long-term plans for higher state taxes to support even higher state spending – even with New York facing projected multi-billion-dollar budget deficits over the next several years in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and response.
The governor plans to deliver a series of separate “State of the State” messages over the next several days.
O’Mara said, “State government is still being operated by Cuomo executive order and that needs to end as soon as possible. First and foremost, the Legislature needs to reclaim its decision-making authority for this critical legislative session ahead of us. I have stressed throughout the COVID-19 response over the past ten months that we need to be ready, once we weather this storm, to start an open and full discussion on the best ways to move forward for this entire state, upstate and downstate. It is going to require a restructuring of New York government, strengthening the state-local partnership, and getting to work rebuilding New York with the right priorities, long-overdue commonsense reforms, and fiscal responsibility. Right now all I’m hearing from Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders is that we need to desperately search for more revenue, including higher taxes and more borrowing, so that the state can afford an unprecedented spending spree in the years ahead. I look forward to joining my Senate Republican colleagues throughout the coming weeks and months to put forth strategies and work to ensure that our upstate regions don't get left behind in the unprecedented rebuilding and restructuring effort that we're facing.”
O’Mara warned that the vision the governor and legislative leaders are laying out for the future of New York could spell even harder times ahead for state and local taxpayers, small businesses and manufacturers, and already hard-pressed upstate communities and workers.
O’Mara said, “The loudest alarm, after more than a decade of the Cuomo administration, is that New York started this new decade, even before COVID-19, facing multi-billion-dollar deficits and a reputation as one of America’s highest-taxed, most expensive, most debt ridden and overregulated states -- with one of the worst business-friendly environments in the nation to boot. Even after the hard road we’ve all been on, it’s mind-boggling that the governor and top legislative Democrats can still keep talking about bigger and bigger state government spending. Governor Cuomo’s direction for New York State, working hand in hand with a State Legislature now firmly under one-party control, has already produced billions of dollars of short- and long-term spending requiring billions of dollars in new taxes, fees, and borrowing for future generations of state and local taxpayers. The short-term pursuit of their hard-left, extreme-liberal political agenda appears to be the priority over a long-term, sustainable future for upstate, middle-class communities, families, workers, and taxpayers.”
While Cuomo continues to focus on a calibrated, short-term reopening of local economies along regional boundaries, O’Mara and his colleagues want to also begin setting rebuilding priorities for post-coronavirus government in New York State throughout the coming year and into the foreseeable future.
O’Mara, whose 58th Senate District covers most of the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions, said that he and other state Senate Republicans are discussing and developing strategies for upstate’s post-coronavirus communities and economies focusing on several cornerstones including the steady reopening and rebuilding of increasing numbers of economic sectors, regulatory and tax reform, and mandate relief, among others.
O’Mara added, “New York remains one of the highest-taxed states in America. We are one of the most overregulated states in the nation. Our local governments and local property taxpayers continue to foot the bill for one of the country’s heaviest burdens of unfunded state mandates. Still, the so-called progressive vision does not emphasize broad-based, lower taxes for workers and employers. Nothing about the pitfalls of overregulation or the drain of unfunded state mandates on counties and local property taxpayers. What about the high cost of living that is driving people, especially young people, out of Upstate New York?”
O’Mara said that he would keep working with his legislative colleagues across the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions to keep attention focused on unfunded state mandates, job-killing state regulations, and a state and local tax burden that hurts family budgets and keeps New York’s business climate one of the worst in the nation.
The next key benchmark arrives later this month when Cuomo begins rolling out his 2021-2022 state budget proposal. O’Mara, who was recently appointed as Ranking Republican member of the Senate Finance Committee, cautioned that the governor and legislative leaders could turn to significant cost shifts to local governments, more state borrowing, and unprecedented increases in state taxes and fees, to balance the state’s books and support new spending.