Senator Flanagan Criticizes Governor Paterson for Following Utility Tax with Consumer Outreach

John J. Flanagan

April 09, 2009

         Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate District) today criticized Governor David Paterson for announcing an outreach program for consumers who can’t pay their energy bills, just days after pushing through a massive utility tax hike that will make it even tougher for people to pay them.

            “Governor Paterson, with the support of the Democrats in the Senate and the Assembly, increased taxes on electricity and natural gas by more than $600 million.  That cost will be transferred to the people of New York who are already having trouble paying their bills.  But now he wants to appear as if he is helping these same people by taking with one hand and giving with the other,” stated Senator Flanagan.  “New Yorkers will not be fooled.  If he really wanted to help those unable to pay their bills, he would have put together a fairer budget.” 

            New Yorkers already pay some of the highest energy costs in the nation and the new utility tax will cost the average resident hundreds of dollars a year.  A small manufacturer with a $10,000 electrical bill will see this assessment go from $333 to $2,000 a year.  This could potentially force these businesses to move out of our state and result in more job losses.

            Senator Flanagan also pointed out that the Governor’s utility tax hike is the only tax increase in the budget that is retroactive, and applies to bills beginning April 1, 2009. 

            Senate Republicans proposed a budget amendment to strike the disastrous utility tax from the budget.  But Senate Democrats supported the tax unanimously and defeated the amendment.

            This tax hike is one component of a budget that will increase taxes by a total of more than $8 billion.  For an average family of four, that will mean an increase of over $2,400 a year.  This includes the elimination of the STAR property tax rebate checks that Governor Paterson and the Senate and Assembly Democrats agreed to.

            “The residents of Long Island need tax relief and jobs and what they are getting is an outreach program.  The budget that was passed in Albany raises taxes, cuts services and is bad for Long Island and the time for gimmicks is over,” added Senator Flanagan.  “We need to get back to Albany to work together for the good of all New Yorkers and to deliver the recovery that everyone needs."