STATEMENT FROM SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER DEAN SKELOS
Instead of keeping his promise of greater openness and transparency, Governor Paterson has proposed a deficit reduction plan that was developed in complete secrecy. His plan would raise health care taxes on businesses, families and individuals, divert hundreds of millions of dollars that could be used to provide cheaper energy for businesses, particularly Upstate, and will be brought up for a vote with no chance for public review, examination or input.
The Governor called for shared sacrifice, yet in crafting a solution he shut half of the people in this state out of the process. He called for action by February first, but let that deadline pass with nothing more than a closed-door meeting of three New York City Democrats. The Governor’s failure of leadership has put the state’s back to the wall.
What is in this deficit reduction package that couldn’t have been taken up in December? What other deficit-closing measures were being contemplated other than raising health insurance taxes? With the process having taken place behind closed doors, we don’t have any answers.
What we do know is that his deficit reduction plan would raise the cost of health insurance premiums for families, individuals and businesses by more than third, an increase of about $240 million. Businesses would be forced to either pass the higher costs onto their employees or eliminate coverage altogether, which would drive up the number of uninsured New Yorkers.
We also know that his proposed 2009-10 budget does not include any plans for economic development and job creation and would put even more jobs at risk by eliminating Empire Zone benefits for thousands of businesses.
To make matters worse, the Governor’s deficit reduction plan also takes almost $500 million from the New York Power Authority (NYPA) and puts it in the General Fund. These funds could be used to reduce energy costs for every small business in the state by two cents per kilowatt hour, as called for in the Senate Republicans’ job creation plan, which would make businesses more competitive, help them weather the recession and avoid employee layoffs.
The funds could also be used to expand Power for Jobs over the next four years to reduce the highest power costs in the country and help struggling manufacturers and high technology companies.
Another option would be to use the money to provide backing for bonds that would allow NYPA to build and operate about forty 100 megawatt, state-of-the-art, power generating facilities to increase the energy available for manufacturing, biotech, semiconductor and alternative energy industries in New York.
Little more than an hour ago, I addressed members of the Manufacturers Alliance of New York. I told them what the Governor is proposing and what the Assembly and Senate Democrats are prepared to pass and they were outraged. Members of the group shouted out, wondering how such a deplorable plan could be forced on them with no input; a plan that will have a devastating impact on their businesses, their employees and their families.
Had Senate Republicans been included in the negotiating process, we would have advocated for measures to create new jobs and opposed tax increases. Instead, the Governor has presented a secret last minute plan that will have a disastrous impact on businesses and families across the state.