We continue to hear from Western New Yorkers frustrated and confused about the new state budget that includes new fees and taxes. Now, one lawmaker is taking the governor up an offer to get rid of an unpopular new tax.
"I don't think we need any more taxes," said Don Liddle.
Liddle says he watches what he spends and how much heat he uses. But thanks to the state's new budget, a new utility tax will charge electric and gas companies an additional two percent on their gross revenue which they would then pass on to their customers.
"We're on a fixed income of course and when you keep taking things away it makes you start wondering if you're going to stick around much longer," Liddle said.
Last week, 2 On Your Side asked the governor about the utility tax.
"Frankly I'd be willing to take the utility tax off the table tomorrow if someone would show me where in the budget we could cut further," Governor David Paterson (D-NY) said.
"I'm taking him up on his challenge," said State Senator George Maziarz (R-62nd District).
Maziarz outlined ten different cost cutting measures to go in place of the utility tax.
"I've outlined a total of 1.7 billion in cuts that is actually twice the amount the utility tax can collect."
It includes cutting one percent from agency contracts, transferring millions of dollars from the governor's "community projects fund" and selling surplus state property.
"Those proposals were part of the senate minority ideas, they're not new," said Morgan Hook, a spokesman for the governor." Those ideas don't work."
Hook said those ideas were outlined and analyzed during the budget process but came short of securing the money need to fill the budget deficit. For several of the proposals, Hook said Maziarz "didn't do the right math." In one proposal, cutting state agency non-personal service, Hook says Governor Paterson already made a 10% when he first took office.
"I think the governor is a better person," said Maziarz. "I think quite frankly, he didn't think out this whole utility tax thing. He thought this would be gone over just kind of slightly without a whole lot of public knowledge or public scrutiny."
The governor's office acknowledges some of the decisions the governor made were not popular, but they say they had to be done to address the budget crisis. Hook said, no other ideas that came to the table would work.
The complete "cuts" Maziarz suggested are as follows;
- Cut 1% from agency contracts
- Consolidation of state agencies
- Cut 5%in state agency non-personal service
- Enhanced Medicaid fraud coordination
- Accelerate state repayment contracts
- Freeze state purchases of recreational lands
- Eliminate executive unspent lump sum balances
- Sales of surplus state property
- Re-implement Welfare/Medicaid anti-fraud safeguards
- Family tuition investment plan