Top Five Legislative Priorities for New Year Build Upon Progress

Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer

January 18, 2017

Senator Ranzenhofer's column appeared in the Amherst and Clarence Bees on January 18th

For decades, the State of New York was plagued by late state budgets, out-of-control spikes in spending, and skyrocketing property taxes.  More recently, a number of steps have been taken to end these fiscally irresponsible practices, in an effort to make New York more affordable.

The start of a new year and a new session of the State Legislature is an opportunity to build upon this progress.   That is why I am eager to get to work on my top legislative priorities for this year.

Bring ride-sharing to Western New York.  While transportation network companies, such as Uber and Lyft, are available to New York City residents, Upstate New Yorkers have been left behind.  Thousands of residents have joined me in urging Governor Cuomo and my Senate and Assembly colleagues to pass this legislation.  

Provide real relief for small businesses.  Over the past six years, 78 different tax cuts have saved taxpayers over $11.3 billion.  The manufacturing tax rate is at the lowest level since 1917, while the corporate tax has been reduced to rates not seen since 1968.  Yet, New York still ranks at the bottom for business climate.  In order to create jobs, there needs to be more focus on cutting taxes, as well as repealing burdensome and costly regulations for small businesses.

Enact a permanent state spending cap into law.  Since 2010, six on-time budgets have restricted spending growth at or below two percent, saving taxpayers a cumulative $31 billion.  A long-lasting limit on expenditures protects taxpayers by allowing them to keep more of their hard-earned dollars.  Although the State Senate has passed this proposal, it still needs the approval of the State Assembly and Governor to become law.

Make the property tax cap permanent.  First enacted in 2011, the property tax cap has stopped more than $15 billion in tax increases for homeowners.  Simply put, it is working.  In 2015, it was extended for another five years.  The property tax cap further protect taxpayers, and it should be made permanent.

No more pensions for convicted politicians.  I have been advocating for an amendment to the State Constitution that would strip pensions from elected officials convicted of corruption.  Those who betray the trust should not be allowed to collect taxpayer-funded pensions.  I voted to end the practice, and it passed the State Legislature in 2016.  In order to amend the Constitution, the joint resolution has to be passed again this year, then approved by voters through a referendum.

From expanding ride-sharing services to our region to chipping away at the tax burden, each one of these initiatives will help create a brighter and more prosperous future for residents in our community.  I will be sure to keep you posted on my efforts.