By State Sen. Jim Tedisco
“I love New York” is New York’s slogan.
Unfortunately, too many people are saying “I’m leaving New York!”
The millions who have fled our state and those who are now contemplating their exodus to a more taxpayer-friendly state have one thing in common: No one wants to be the last one left in New York to pay for our state’s overzealous taxes, regulations, mandates and laws.
New York’s motto is “Excelsior” or “ever upward.” It should not signify “ever-higher taxes.”
While there’s been some positive changes, such as the success of the tax cap in holding the line on property tax increases, I’m not going to sugarcoat it and say everything’s coming up roses.
By any reasonable metric, New York state and Upstate New York is economically struggling. Consider these startling statistics:
The Empire State is ranked number one in the nation for highest tax burden.
New York is ranked 50th in the nation for “Tax Freedom Day” (May 3) when taxpayers symbolically pay off all their tax obligations on the federal, state and local levels and start pocketing their hard-earned money.
More than 189,000 people escaped from New York last year and one million left the state over the past decade. Millennials making $100,000 or more are leaving New York State at a higher rate than any other state.
New York came in as second worst state to retire in 2019.
As we begin a new year, New York state government is grappling with a $6.1 billion deficit and the solution our downstate leaders are eyeing is more of the same bad medicine that poisoned our state’s economy in the first place: Higher taxes on middle class taxpayers and small businesses.
The Assembly Speaker recently said as much when he said last month that “we always believe in raising revenue,” which is Democrat-speak for new taxes.
Now that our state government is run by one political affiliation with one voice from one region of the state, my Democratic Assembly colleagues have new allies ready, willing and able to raise taxes in the form of the Senate Majority Leader and her Democratic Conference in the state Senate, along with a governor who has shown a willingness to increase taxes.
In 2019 alone, their budget raised taxes on hardworking taxpayers and prescribed more of what can be labeled “governmental malpractice” on the economy of New York by offering the same bad medicine.
That bad medicine included ending the popular property tax rebates, new taxes on internet purchases, prescription medicine, gasoline, grocery bags, real estate purchases, car rentals Upstate, the congestion pricing driving tax to visit New York City, and taxpayer-funded political campaigns, which is essentially welfare for politicians and political consultants.
Due to the epic incompetence and utter buffoonery of the Senate majority, New York lost 25,000 jobs that would have been created by Amazon and could have generated $27 billion in revenue to reduce property taxes, help our schools and fix dilapidated infrastructure.
Unfortunately, with the current power structure in our state government, we must overcome geographic discrimination from those downstate leaders that seem to be ambivalent about our quality of life and needs.
A large swath of Upstate New York and the 49th District has poor to no broadband and cellular coverage, where, and this is no joke, the best ways to communicate in an emergency are via smoke signals and carrier pigeons. Given that kind of environment, there are challenges to luring a company like Amazon and all those good-paying jobs Upstate.
This is just the beginning of the new Majorities’ radical reshaping of our state. On deck is a complete government takeover of the state’s healthcare system through single-payer government-run socialized medicine, which the non-partisan Rand Corp. estimates will cost taxpayers at least $139 billion a year. If passed, single-payer would almost double New York’s annual state budget creating a bureaucratic and financial nightmare.
We have heard no plan from the governor, Senate Majority Leader or Assembly Speaker for Upstate economic development to help the private sector and our small businesses create jobs. They continue to focus on social experimentation and to treat New York with the same poison that got us to this point and clearly refuse to provide a pathway for success or any real prescription for a cure.
The Senate Republican conference and I have put forth major reforms and we have offered a holistic plan to end unfunded state mandates on local governments which cause property taxes to increase. As the original sponsor of and driving force for passage of the Property Tax Cap, I’m heartened that has been made permanent. But what’s good for the goose should be good enough for the gander.
That’s why we need to permanently cap state spending. We must reduce energy taxes and cut taxes, mandates and regulations for taxpayers, municipalities and our small businesses. And we must oppose any toll hike on the New York State Thruway, which is just a backdoor tax that will lead to increased consumer prices and costs to businesses.
New York has a chance to be the Empire State again but we can’t keep reaching into the same well of higher taxes as has happened in the past.
Sure, the Democrats can continue to “just tax it” in New York. And if they do, taxpayers will continue to “just leave it.”
And then who will be left to pay the bills?
By State Sen. Jim Tedisco