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Letter: Senator Agrees With CCAF: State Has Spending Problem

(This letter is in response to a letter printed in the July 9, 2010 edition of the Farmingdale Observer entitled “Property Taxes Are Too High in Farmingdale.”)

The Concerned Citizens Association is right. Their July letter centers on the NYS budget process and asks for “real tax relief this year in the very near future to Farmingdale, as well as Long Island residents.” I could not agree more.

These important matters need to be discussed in public, in open meetings, as the senate Democrats have reversed every budget reform and decided all budget decisions behind closed doors.

High taxes for Long Islanders are the most important issue; the STAR rebate checks need to be reinstated, spending needs to be capped and taxes need to be cut.

In 2009, New York State became a “one party” state, with Democrats taking control of all three branches of power (Senate, Assembly and governorship, as well as attorney general and comptroller). Upon assuming total control, they promised change and gave us change for the worse, including disastrous budgets and deficit reduction programs.

 For the past two years, the budget was negotiated in total secrecy - it is not balanced, it does not close the deficit and it’s unfair to people on Long Island. No open conference committees were convened, as was required by law in 2007.

 This year, more than 100 days after the April 1 deadline, the budget is still not done.

 Although incomplete, the 2010-11 budget has already seen senate Democrats pass a $2.2 billion tax hike that compounds the disaster created last year (2009-10) when they increased taxes by $12 billion.

 There is no mandate relief for schools or localities, there’s no Medicaid reform, there is no five-year highway and bridge capital plan for Long Island, there is no school property tax cap and no state spending cap.

I have offered alternative spending cuts in Medicaid, government consolidation and stopping new government programs. I propose a job creation plan to give tax credits tied directly to the creation of new jobs; similar to the federal job creation plan.

 The Concerned Citizens Association of Farmingdale is entirely correct; this year was the most dysfunctional budget process ever. Democrats violated the 2007 budget reform law by not convening joint, public conference committees to negotiate the budget. The budget was done in total secrecy.

Just so you do not think this reply is a partisan attack, Democrat Tom DiNapoli, the New York State comptroller, just issued the following statement:

“DiNapoli criticized the piecemeal, secretive budget process and urged lawmakers to enact budget reforms to address the state’s serious structural imbalance.”

 DiNapoli’s review of the enacted budget bills found: spending of approximately $136.5 billion, and $2.1 billion in payment delays from State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2009-2010, an increase of approximately $9.6 billion, or 7.6 percent from SFY 2009-10. “This rate of spending growth is more than twice the rate of inflation.”

 “This was a difficult budget,” DiNapoli said. “But the degree of difficulty was driven higher by the failure to act decisively. Three and a half months into the state fiscal year and the budget still isn’t fully done. Even with the Governor’s vetoes, budget balance is still tenuous. And this year’s budget does not adequately address out-year budget gaps.”

In contrast, I have a strong, clear and consistent record as a tax cutter. In fact, since 1995, I have worked to cut 19 different taxes more than 90 times, saving New York taxpayers a cumulative total of approximately $165 billion.

I will continue to fight for lower school taxes, to remove burdensome and under funded mandates, and for additional pension reforms. I opposed the MTA tax, only to be outvoted, and will continue to try to make real property tax relief our number one priority. Clearly, New York has a spending problem. There are no checks and balances left.

Sen. Kemp Hannon

Sixth Senatorial District