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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara
"Stage being set for tax relief"
ALBANY, Dec. 8 -- The calls for tax relief have been arriving for months now from across the state’s political spectrum, well in advance of the opening of the 2014 legislative session in early January. And while there’s a long way to go between where things stand now and, ultimately, potentially difference-making action for New York’s taxpayers next year -- it sure looks and sounds like a consensus is building to do something noteworthy.
That’s at least a good note to begin the new year.
early October, as the state Senate Majority was engaged in a series of
statewide public hearings on tax and regulatory reform, Governor Andrew
Cuomo established a bipartisan Tax Relief Commission that’s preparing
to unveil its tax-cutting recommendations. It’s being reported that
The pro-taxpayer group Unshackle Upstate (unshackleupstate.com) has been out lining up support for a plan it calls a “New ERA (Economic Revitalization Agenda) for Upstate.” It’s a 5-point plan focused on personal income tax relief, business tax cuts, sales tax reductions, a swift phase-out of the so-called 18-a utility assessment (more on this one below), and moving forward with the development of the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry in a responsible manner.
The New York State Republican Committee just weighed in with “The Jobs Agenda” (www.nygop.org/page/the-nygop-jobs-agenda) echoing the Unshackle Upstate plan in fundamental ways, but going beyond it to address key initiatives for regulatory reform, mandate relief, workforce development and education.
And of course I’ve recently joined many of my Senate colleagues in a renewed call for bipartisan action on a comprehensive tax-cutting agenda in 2014 by issuing a preliminary report based upon the findings of our public hearings this fall, “Tax Policy Review & Reform Initiative.” You can read our full report on www.omara.nysenate.gov. In the left-hand column of the home page, just click on the “New Senate Report Calls for Tax Cuts” icon.
This widespread and growing focus on tax relief is undeniably good news--as long as it’s followed by meaningful action. We know that state taxes are too high and stifle hope for sustained private-sector economic growth and job creation. Our tax code and policies have to better reflect the realities of the modern economy and put New York State on a level competitive playing field with competing states. As I continue to say, no one says it more clearly than our Governor Andrew Cuomo: “New York State has no future as the tax capital of the nation.”
With these goals in mind, the Senate recommendations cover a range of actions to reform, simplify and reduce personal income taxes, business taxes, estate taxes and local property taxes, and include a few recommendations which I’ve targeted over the past several years.
For example, it calls for eliminating the franchise tax on manufacturers across the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions, and statewide. Manufacturing has always been the economic engine of many upstate communities. It remains our best hope for long-term revitalization. Government can help lead that effort by starting with a pro-job, pro-private-sector, pro-manufacturing tax cut like the one I introduced earlier this year (S.3562/A.3342) to rapidly phase out the franchise tax on manufacturers. That move, according to manufacturing leaders, would help create upwards of 3,000 good-paying, private-sector jobs over the next few years, encourage existing manufacturers to expand and invest in their New York facilities, and make the state a more attractive place for other manufacturers to locate their operations here in the future.
The Senate also joins the ever-growing chorus for accelerating the elimination of a higher utility tax first imposed on New Yorkers in 2009, the so-called 18-a assessment that hits farmers, manufacturers and senior citizens facing high energy costs especially hard.
It’s worthwhile to note, as well, that the Senate plan further recommends enacting a permanent two-percent cap on state government spending and dedicating all of the surplus revenues resulting from the cap to future tax reductions.
Overall, the stage is being set for tax relief for all New Yorkers in the new year. Now it’s going to be all about the follow through. We have to do better. We need bolder steps to keep building on the efforts of the past several years to turn around the upstate economy, strengthen manufacturing, create good jobs and revitalize upstate regions like our own.
The emerging blueprints could produce a more competitive business climate that invites private- sector job growth, welcomes businesses and industries, and helps provide long-term economic security for workers and their families -- if we finally turn all this talk into the right actions.
Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara
Schuyler County Officials
Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison
Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field
Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687
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: Gary Whyman, 535-8181
District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383
State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County
Sen. Charles E. Schumer
United States Senate
Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand
United States Senate
State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)
Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Assemblyman Phil Palmesano--
Steuben, Schuyler, Yates
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869