By now, you’re probably sick of all the political advertisements on television and radio, the lawn signs, the billboards. You’ve had enough of the rhetoric, the name calling and the campaign promises. You just want it all to be over.
But I implore you, don’t let your disgust with campaigning discourage you from heading to the polls on Nov. 2. Because this year, it is more important than ever that you vote.
Unshackle Upstate has renamed Election Day as Judgment Day for the New York State Legislature. That’s because there is so much at stake – specifically the future direction of New York state and its economy. And who we, the voters of this state, choose to send to the Capitol can significantly affect that outcome.
Voters will choose a new governor and lieutenant governor. They will also vote on state comptroller, attorney general and all 212 seats in the Legislature. It is our chance to take back our state government, to put in office people who will do what’s best for New York – control spending, lower taxes and create jobs.
Just by casting your ballot, you remind all elected officials that your approval is neither automatic nor to be taken for granted. They have to earn your vote with service, and that means acting in the best interest of taxpayers to lower state spending and reduce taxes.
But for whom you cast that ballot will also send a strong message.
New Yorkers have long paid some of the highest taxes in the nation. Yet in the last two years, the Legislature passed laws that hit the average family with $1,300 in new taxes and fees.
This summer, US News reported that, over the past two years, New York’s per-capita state tax hikes totaled $414 per person – far more than any state including California, which has raised taxes by $312 per capita. According to the report, New York by itself accounted for 29 percent of all the state tax increases proposed and enacted since 2009.
The 2010-11 budget added $1.2 billion in new taxes, in large part to cover the whopping $136 billion spending bill and close an enormous – and growing – budget gap. Lawmakers balanced the budget by relying on their usual one-shots and temporary enhancements, not by addressing the state’s spending problems.
That makes it certain that the budget gap will just continue to rear its ugly head. In fact, the comptroller estimates the state will face a cumulative spending gap that could exceed $37 billion through its fiscal year 2013-14, largely because lawmakers have failed to find a permanent solution to the discrepancies between spending and revenues.
Now when something like that happens in our homes and business, we have only one choice. We are forced to tighten our belts, to purchase only what we can afford. New York hasn’t done that, and we’re all paying the price – in lost jobs and neighbors, as people leave the area for better, more affordable opportunities.
That’s why who you choose to send to Albany is so critical. We need lawmakers who understand the dire realities and are willing to be leaders, to step up and be accountable for the tough decisions it will take to fix this mess.
I’ve heard the anti-incumbent calls to “throw out the bums,” but I don’t buy them. There are incumbent legislators who get it, and who have done an admirable job of representing their constituents. But in cases where that hasn’t happened, new blood is needed.
I don’t necessarily support term limits, either. Why? Because you, the voter, have the right to impose term limits every time there is an election. If you don’t like what your representative is doing, you simply vote for his or her challenger and put a new person in office.
So again, I implore you to exercise that right. Cut through the campaign rhetoric, and make a choice for a better future. Vote on Judgment Day, Nov. 2.