Senate Republicans Push to Stop Help Lower Energy Costs

Dean G. Skelos

April 03, 2009

State Senate Republicans today introduced an amendment to budget legislation being advanced by Senate Democrats that would remove onerous new taxes on natural gas and utilities, restore funds that were swept from the New York Power Authority, and expand the Power for Jobs program to provide low cost power to businesses and not-for-profit corporations that create or retain jobs in New York. Senate Democrats voted unanimously to defeat the amendment.

“New Yorkers already pay some of the highest energy costs in the nation, and the bills being advanced today by the Governor and Senate and Assembly Democrats will add even more of a burden to our families and small businesses,” said Senate Republican Leader Dean G. Skelos. “Thousands of New York’s businesses have already closed their doors or relocated due to skyrocketing energy costs – this amendment will help provide relief, and allow New York’s businesses to keep their doors open and create jobs.”

“At a time when New Yorkers are paying more for everything from groceries to clothing, the last thing we want to do is increase taxes, particularly on necessities like heat and electricity for their homes or to run their businesses,” said Senator Michael Nozzolio, ranking Republican member of the Senate Energy Committee. “The energy proposals being advanced by the Senate Democrats will harm families, and prevent businesses from creating new jobs at a time when we need it most. This amendment does away with one more unnecessary, burdensome tax and takes measures to keep energy costs down, providing relief particularly in Upstate and in Western New York.”

“New taxes on utilities, combined with the sweep of funds from the New York Power Authority will make it difficult for small businesses and families to afford increasing energy costs,” said Senator George Maziarz, member of the Senate Energy Committee. “Last week, we were successful in fighting against a NYPA rate increase, but that success is now diminished by the fact that this budget raises taxes on utilities – taxes that will be hurtful to New York’s families and businesses.”

The budget agreement announced by Governor Paterson and the legislative leaders includes $651.6 million in higher tax surcharges on utility companies that would be passed along to consumers of natural gas and electricity, costing the average resident over $100 a year. A small manufacturer with a $10,000 electrical bill will see this assessment go from $333 to $2,000 a year. The utility tax would be retroactive to March 1st.

The amendment also restores $210 million that was cut from the New York Power Authority, hurting thousands of upstate businesses that rely on the aid to help lower energy costs, and uses those funds to expand the successful Power for Jobs program through June 2011.