There is a funny thing that happens in Albany around budget time. There are pieces of legislation that are hiding in the bushes that end up being a tax on you and I. Some taxes are in your face, while others get to you in a more circuitous route. And just remember, that even though you can’t see or directly touch a “tax”, there are many of them out there.
Take for example some of the bills that are being considered this week:
Solar Renewable Energy Credits (S.7903-B Thompson/A.11004-A Englebright)
Telecom Merger Bill (S.7263 Foley/A.2208-C Brodsky)
Limitations on Greenhouse Gas Emissions (S.4315-C Thompson/A.7572 Sweeney)
Now, while some of them may seem like good things, the reality is that they are hidden taxes. And those hidden taxes will ultimately find their way into our pocketbooks through increased rates for electric, gas and telecommunication services. Yet, we will hear from the elected officials that the effected company shouldn’t have to pass on those increases to the end user. That’s hogwash. Many of the companies that we get our utilities through are either publicly traded and have a responsibility to their shareholders or they are for-profit companies that need to make money to grow and invest in new technology as our demands grow.
Think back to last year. In the budget bomb of 2009, where we got hit with more than $8 billion in new taxes and fees, there were some clearly in your face increases. Things like a car registration rate hike, a fishing license increase, and the all too obvious personal income tax increase. But there were lots of hidden ones. Take for instance the more than $700 million in changes to healthcare reimbursement rate cuts and increases to carriers. Now, none of those were directed at you and me. But guess what? Nearly every single one of us saw an increase in the rate we pay for our health insurance coverage. That is a hidden tax. And then there was the $525 million dollar increase in the 18-A assessment which taxes energy. Yes, you guessed it. That is also a hidden tax and many have seen the cost to heat and cool your home and business rise in the past few months.
So as this budget gets finalized, keep in mind the difference between an obvious tax and a hidden tax. Unshackle Upstate is keeping track of all the taxes and will share them with you. And when you go to the polls on November 2, remember all of those Senators and Assembly members that voted to pass on taxes to you. And if your elected officials voted to hit you with more taxes and fees, then you hit back with a no vote for them returning to the Capitol to represent you. It is time we take responsibility for our votes and make each and every elected official accountable for their actions.