As the 2011 legislative session approaches, I’m sure there are more questions than answers about what will happen. New York will have a new governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. In addition, there will be more than 35 freshman legislators within the two houses. To compound the confusion, state spending is grossly out of alignment with revenues. No doubt, something will have to give. The question is, what will it be?
Well, I believe there is hope. Gov.-elect Cuomo’s plans align with our core principles. For the past few years, Unshackle has clearly stated what needs to take place if our economy is to recover. There are four keys actions government must take:
- Reduce state and local spending
- Reduce mandates on our taxpayers, local governments and school districts
- Reduce taxes, fees and assessment
- Reduce and lower state debt
What ails New York is as clear as the nose on your face -spending is growing faster than revenue. It’s illogical to require taxpayers and businesses to adjust their spending based on revenue while the state simply creates more revenue through new taxes and fees, rather than cutting spending. If this vicious cycle continues, it will surely lead to an even slower recovery and the loss of more jobs to other states and other countries.
At the center of New York’s spending problem are three cost drivers: education, Medicaid and labor. Collectively, they account for more than 66 percent of state-controlled spending. And after years of collective growth in these areas, 17 cents out of every dollar collected goes to pay down the state’s debt. Our state’s income taxes are now 22 percent higher than the national average, our local property taxes are 79 percent higher.
That’s simply unacceptable. So as step one, we’re asking you to send a message to your state legislators demanding support for a property tax cap with accompanying mandate relief for local governments. All this talk of a circuit breaker instead of a property tax cap completely misses the point. Without capping or reducing spending, a circuit breaker merely moves money around, reducing certain people’s tax bills while raising taxes for others. It does nothing to solve the root cause of the state’s skyrocketing property taxes. And the root cause is out-of-control spending.
The way to improve our economy is by lowering taxes and encouraging private sector job growth. The simple fact is when people have more money, they will spend it in their communities. And that creates economic recovery. Sure, we’re all frustrated, even discouraged. But now is not the time to give up. You are the voice that Albany needs to hear. And we need everyone on board to make that voice louder.
Take the first step by sending your legislator a letter about the importance of a 2-percent tax cap. Our work is just beginning. Don’t be shy, join the fight!