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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara

"No shortage of budget reactions"

ALBANY, March 30 -- Reactions to a state fiscal plan that now comes in at roughly $141
billion (a figure that includes a little over $5 billion of federal aid for Hurricane Sandy recovery) go in a thousand different directions.

Some might say a billion different directions.

The overriding point is that from agriculture to zebra mussels, this state’s annual budget covers a lot of ground. There is -- or isn’t, depending on your point of view -- something there for everyone and
everything under the sun.

But I think the very number itself, $141 billion, draws the most immediate, gut-level response: New York State deals in big money. That’s why it’s so important that for three years in a row now we’ve put the brakes on state spending growth, held it to under two percent and adopted the budget on time.

So ongoing spending restraint has to register as one highlight of the new budget plan. In simple terms, there’s just no way to sustain unbridled spending growth without generating sufficient revenues. In other words, without taxing – and we all know that New York State sure did (and continues to do) that too.

Take the latest annual report from the Tax Foundation. For the second year in a row, New York ranks as the state with the worst business climate in the nation (defined as “a measure how each state’s tax laws affect economic performance”). The new report also puts New York at or near the top of the rankings in numerous tax categories including: state and local taxes per person (1st), state income tax collections per person (1st), gasoline taxes (1st), and state and local property taxes per person (5th). You can find the full report at

So I’ll stress here that one other immediate, strong reaction to the new state budget has to be that it finally includes a few future tax breaks for a variety of New Yorkers – small businesses and farmers, manufacturers and middle-class families, veterans, volunteer fire departments, and others.

Relief from taxes has been notoriously hard to come by in New York State. So while this budget keeps a 2-percent cap on state spending, it also includes a few future tax breaks. That’s critical.

In addition to the forthcoming tax breaks, there are other foundations in this budget that we can build on.

We’re establishing a series of business incubators statewide, in places where they can be anchored by colleges and universities, to encourage high-tech start-ups and better secure our competitive position within the research and development, technology-based economy of the future.

In keeping with the underlying goals of the Senate’s recently released “Grown in New York” plan to strengthen New York State agriculture, this budget includes farm-based tax relief, marketing initiatives, research and development to promote diversity, and provisions to encourage the purchase of products grown, produced or harvested in New York.

And recognizing the rapidly changing nature of the modern economy – where jobs and careers seem to come and go in a heartbeat (or at the click of a mouse) -- this budget also includes a job training initiative based on the “ready-workforce” model used successfully in other states to help attract and retain a steady workforce by providing comprehensive, targeted job training and retraining specifically tailored to the needs of industries and other employers.

Not nearly enough will be accomplished by this new fiscal plan. Clearly there are other actions being taken that will more than likely offset the fullest benefits of any new tax relief. Everyone’s far from satisfied, including me, but that’s for another time.

As I said, every state budget draws a thousand different reactions. Good and bad. Hopeful and pessimistic. Informed and uninformed.

It’s inevitably a mixed bag, at best.

Yet I’ll stress this again: those of us committed to a belief in targeted, job-creating tax cuts and other initiatives, especially in a place like New York that’s been known as a high-tax state for far too long, are fully on board with a few moves in the right direction in this budget. Equally important, in my view, it opens the door to a future focus on tax cutting. Imagine that. That’s real change.

Now we have to keep finding ways to keep pushing through that door.

Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara


Schuyler County Officials

Legislature Members:

Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison

Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field


Legislature Chairman

Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687

Legislature Members:

Michael A. Yuhasz, 535-4967

Doris L. Karius, 546-5544

Barbara Halpin, 594-3683

Glenn R. Larison, 594-3385

Thomas M. Gifford, 535-9517

Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen 481-0482

Stewart Field, Watkins Glen 535-2335

County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133

Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222

Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222

County Treasurer: Margaret Starbuck, 535-8181

District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383


State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County

Sen. Charles E. Schumer

United States Senate
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3201
DC Phone: 202-224-6542
DC Fax: 202-228-3027
Email Address:

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand

United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
DC Phone: 202-224-4451

State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)

Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2091
Fax: (518) 426-6976

Assemblyman Christopher Friend -- Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
Room 720, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (518) 455-4538


© The Odessa File 2011
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869