Senator Hassell-Thompson Lauds Governor's Budget

Ruth Hassell-Thompson

March 12, 2007

State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D-Bronx/Westchester) today had strong words of praise for Governor Eliot Spitzer’s state budget for Fiscal Year 2007-08, singling out the chief executive’s intentions to provide targeted tax relief and tax fairness for millions of New Yorkers saddled with an unfair tax burden.

The Governor’s budget -- which contains no tax increases -- includes a three-year, $6 billion property tax relief plan aimed at New York’s middle-class working families and seniors who have been hurt by spiraling property taxes. Additionally, the budget will close corporate tax loopholes that allowed many New York-based companies to avoid paying state taxes.

"New York’s families have long been burdened by a tax system that put the overwhelming responsibility of funding our schools and financing our state on their backs," said Senator Hassell-Thompson. "With his budget, Governor Spitzer has told them to lay their burdens down. He has proposed a tax system that has one underlying purpose, and that is fairness, the notion that all of us must play a part in getting New York back to its days where it was the undisputed economic, commercial and financial leader of America."

Under Governor Spitzer’s property tax relief program, 95 percent of middle class homeowners statewide will receive additional tax relief. Taxpayers will receive benefits on a sliding scale, with benefits declining as income exceeds $60,000 for upstate residents and $80,000 for downstate homeowners.

For example, basic STAR homeowners in New York City will see, on average, an 80 percent rise in their savings from $212 to $382. Seniors in New York City will see a 30% increase from $381 to $495.

STAR relief for New York City residents earning $230,000 or less will also be increased: the 2007 Personal Income Tax (PIT) refund for married individuals who file jointly will be $300, up from the previous limit of $230. All other residents can expect to see their refunds go from $115 to $150.

The Bronx/Westchester lawmaker pointed out that the Governor’s tax relief proposal is targeted to those who need it most, as were two tax relief measures recently proposed by Senate Minority.

"Like us, Governor Spitzer understands the need for working families and seniors to keep more of their money in their pocket," said Senator Hassell-Thompson. "We see eye-to-eye on this issue and we will work hand-in-hand with him to make this possible."

Senator Hassell-Thompson also had high praise for the Governor’s efforts to eliminate loopholes created by antiquated tax laws and used by corporate entities and individuals to shelter their income.

"The tax laws that are currently on the books are laws of unintended consequences," the Bronx/Westchester lawmaker said. "Legislation passed in 1907 has created the loopholes of 2007, which many companies and individuals have exploited to skirt their responsibilities. New York companies have complained that taxes are too high to conduct business in our state. Governor Spitzer heard their message and is responding by offering tax relief. In return, he’s going to ask those same businesses to adhere to a more equitable tax system where everyone pulls their weight."

Senator Hassell-Thompson made it clear that many companies statewide do play by the rules and take their corporate obligations quite seriously but other entities simply do not.

"It is extremely unfair to ask the majority of New Yorkers assume the tax burden every year while others do an end-around to get out of paying their fair share. To change their ways, you have to change the laws and that’s what Governor Spitzer is going to do. My Senate Democratic colleagues and I will partner with him in fighting for permanent tax equity for all New Yorkers."