Senate Republicans Offer Amendments to Stop Tax Hikes in Democrats Budget

Dean G. Skelos

April 03, 2009

In an effort to stop Senate Democrats from pushing through the largest tax and spending hikes in state history, Senate Republicans today put forward budget amendments that would eliminate tax increases, restore rebate checks for property taxpayers and help businesses create new jobs. They also outlined spending cuts and alternative sources of revenues that show how taxes can be cut and the budget remain balanced.

Senate Democrats unanimously opposed every Republican amendment, and voted in favor of budget bills that will raise taxes on every New Yorker, take away property tax rebate checks from senior citizens and other homeowners, increase costs to businesses for health insurance and energy and would do nothing to create jobs.

“The tax increase bill Republicans voted against today reflects everything that is wrong with this budget,” Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos said. “It increases taxes and fees by billions of dollars. It does nothing to help school districts reduce their costs. It does nothing to help people afford a college education. It does nothing to reduce the tax burden of businesses, large and small, so they can be competitive and create new jobs. Today, and throughout this week, Senate Republicans have offered amendment after amendment to make this a better budget and Senate Democrats have voted unanimously against every single one.”

“The Senate Democrats consider tax cuts to be more government spending and they couldn’t be more wrong,” Senator Joseph Griffo (R-C, Rome) said. “Republicans have fought for tax cuts to put more money in the pockets of taxpayers so they can decide how to spend it and help turn our economy around. The tax hikes the Democrats are supporting will only cause New York to lose jobs and make our economy worse.”
“"During these difficult times we should be doing all that we can to help struggling New Yorkers," said Senator John DeFrancisco (R-C-I, Syracuse) said. "Instead the Democrat-led budget will make it much more difficult for our residents to pay their taxes and make ends meet. This is a disastrous budget, and it comes at the worst possible time for New York State families, individuals and businesses."
The Republican budget amendments reflect the fiscally-responsible budget plan they issued last month that demonstrated how the budget could be balanced and the deficit closed through spending cuts, government consolidation and additional revenues, without increasing taxes.
Today, and throughout this week, Senate Republicans have offered amendments to make this a better budget, including proposals that would:

> Eliminate the biggest tax increase in history.
> Stop a massive personal income tax hike that will not only hurt families, but will harm small businesses and cost thousands of jobs.
> Strike the countless tax increases on things such as health care, highway use, auto rentals, beer, wine, and cigars.
> Restore tax rebate checks that so many New Yorkers depend on to help pay their property taxes.
> Allow SUNY to keep the money raised through a tuition hike so it can be invested in our higher education system instead of being swept into the general fund.
> We offered an amendment to help families afford college tuition by pre-paying.
> Provide desperately needed mandate relief for our schools to help them contain costs.
> Place a cap on state spending to put the brakes on budgets like this one that spend taxpayers money like a runaway train.

Senate Republicans have outlined more than $3.2 billion in spending cuts and other revenue sources that could be used to fund budget restorations and make up for revenues that would be returned as tax cuts.

Senate Republicans savings and revenue proposals include:
> cutting 1% from agency contracts to save $519 million;
> consolidating administrative functions of state agencies to save $266 million;
> Cutting %5 from state agency non-personal services to save $138 million;
> re-implementing safeguards against Medicaid and welfare fraud to save $34 million;
> enhancing Medicaid fraud coordination to save $175 million;
> selling surplus state property to raise $50 million;
> collecting sales taxes on cigarette sales in Indian reservations to raise $500 million;
> freezing state purchases of recreational lands to save $78 million;
> allowing parents of children ages 14 and under to pre-pay SUNY and CUNY tuition to raise $216 million; and
> eliminating unspent government lump sum fund balances to save $50 million.

The Senate Republican budget plan also included $5.5 billion in spending cuts proposed in the Executive Budget.

In addition, Senate Republicans also pointed out that the budget negotiated by the Democrats included a slush fund of more than $1 billion in unallocated federal stimulus monies that could be used to pay for budget restorations without increasing taxes.

“This budget increases taxes on all New Yorkers to help pay for a massive $13 billion increase in state spending,” Senator Michael Ranzenhofer (R-C-I, Amherst) said. “I proposed an amendment to cap state spending so we can actually reduce the burden on taxpayers, yet the same Democrats who voted for a spending cap last year, shot it down today so they could continue to push through this bloated budget.”
“It only takes one Democrat to have the courage to stand up and vote yes on our amendments to stop the tax hikes, restore the property tax rebates, to give school districts mandate relief, to help businesses create jobs, and stop a disastrous utility tax that will drive up the bills of ratepayers across the state,” Senator John Flanagan (R-C-I, East Northport) said. “We are proposing ways to make this budget better for the people of this state, yet not one Democrat is willing to join the fight.”