New York needs to get its fiscal house in order

Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb

Legislative Column from Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R-Canandaigua)

This week, Gov. Cuomo devoted a great deal of his State of the State address explaining how the newly-passed federal tax reform bill will hurt New York. If you look past the shouting, finger-pointing and overblown rhetoric on federal policies, you’ll see a painfully obvious sign ­– New York State needs to get its fiscal house in order.

We face a more than $4 billion budget deficit. Our residents deal with the highest tax burden in the country. More than 1 million people have moved out of New York since 2010. The impacts of federal tax reform are likely to be felt more in high-tax states like New York. The governor outlined an agenda that was long on proposals, but short on specifics on how we will start moving in the right fiscal direction.


To address a potential fiscal crisis, the governor floated the idea of a massive overhaul to New York’s tax structure. He suggested shifting from an income-tax based system to a payroll-tax based system. What this means for everyday New Yorkers – or if it’s even possible – is anyone’s guess at this point.

While no details were provided on this potential tax overhaul plan, a proposal of this magnitude must have one, non-negotiable component to it – public hearings and rigorous vetting by New Yorkers who already are overburdened with taxes.

Transparency has never been a staple of the governor’s three-men-in-a-room style of governing. In fact, he has treated public review and input as inconveniences. But this latest proposal is too complex and important to be rushed through the dark of night like so much of his agenda.


Some have suggested this will be the toughest state budget year in many years. But despite exaggerated rhetoric on the “economic civil war” and federal “assault” on New York’s economy, there was no commitment to actually reduce state spending. Just once, it would be refreshing if Albany would address financial problems with actual belt-tightening and eliminating costly, wasteful programs that fail to produce intended results.

Unfortunately, as the governor’s floundering economic development initiatives have shown, he is more than willing to use your money to further his personal agenda. With the potential of tough fiscal times ahead, it is more critical than ever that the Legislature and the governor devise solutions to move New York in the right direction and finally involve the public in the process.

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