Taxes? More Taxes?

George Winner

October 15, 2009

It’s no secret that as we approach the month of September in New York, the state is facing yet another budget deficit – this time one that’s already topping $2 billion and could rise even higher.

So expect Governor Paterson to call the Legislature back to the Capitol in the coming weeks for another round of deficit reduction that could very well include – hold on to your hats – tax increases.  That’s right, at the moment I’m afraid that New York’s current team of leaders will be tempted, once again, to turn where they’ve consistently turned to deal with fiscal trouble: higher state taxes and fees.

Even if New Yorkers have had enough.  

And so between now and then, we need to keep sending one message: New York’s taxpayers can’t take any more taxes.

Recall that the 2009-2010 state budget increased state taxes and fees by more than $8 billion – the largest tax increase in state history.  Of course, most of us don’t need to sit back and recall it because we’re being reminded of it month after month after month.  To put it mildly, New York’s leaders have not been shy in the least about nickel-and-diming state taxpayers in the worst possible ways during tough economic times.

Remember July?  That’s when customers of New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG) and utility customers statewide began receiving notice of the higher utility tax that was producing increases in their utility bills.  That new tax, enacted by the governor and legislative leaders as part of this year’s budget, took effect on July 1st.  One Senate analysis estimated that the tax will cost the average upstate New York family $200 a year.  Overall, it’s expected to raise $557 million in the current fiscal year and more than $2.2 billion over the next four years it’s scheduled to remain in effect – all of which will be deposited into the state’s general fund.

It’s the worst possible economic time to raise taxes and yet month after month, because of this year’s budget, New York government is gouging utility customers, local property taxpayers, sportsmen, college students, motorists and every other taxpayer with a new tax or a new fee.  It was outrageous at the time the budget was adopted and it’s even worse now as the new taxes start hitting home for seniors, families, and businesses barely making ends meet.

Next up, in September, will be a host of new motor vehicle fees.  Many of these new fees will take effect on September 1st and make it significantly more expensive to own and operate a car in this state.  As part of this year’s state budget, beginning on September 1, 2009, passenger vehicle registration fees will increase from $44 to $55, along with fees for registering trailers, motorcycles, ATVs, and boats.  Coming next April?  New Yorkers obtaining or renewing their vehicle registrations will be required to purchase brand new license plates -- whether they need them or not -- for $25, a $10 increase.

It’s just been outrageous and now there could be more on the way.  Those of us who were strongly opposed to this year's state budget have been saying all along that it was the wrong budget at the worst possible economic time. 

So we’ll keep sending that message, especially as the need to deal with the next state budget deficit intensifies.  We can’t keep dumping the responsibility for New York’s fiscal woes on the backs of businesses, families, senior citizens, and every other taxpayer. 

Governor Paterson, together with New York’s Senate and Assembly Democratic leaders, still don’t seem to understand that New York’s taxpayers can’t take any more taxes.