2010-01-21 / Front Page

Gov Seeks More Taxes

What’s another billion?
Michael Brendan Dougherty

If Governor David Paterson has his way in the new budget season, New Yorkers will pay nearly $1 billion more in taxes and fees. The new taxes are being imposed to cover budget gaps in a 2010- 2011 budget that increases state spending during a prolonged economic downturn.

Speed cameras will be deployed to run up receipts for traffic violations. Additionally, New Yorkers will face more “sin taxes” including another $1 per pack tax on cigarettes and a new tax on nondiet sodas. That will drive up prices at drive-throughs and grocery stores with a $7.68 tax on every gallon of syrup for soft drinks. The governor’s office estimates that these two taxes combined will yield $465 million over the next year, and almost $1 billion in 2011-2012.

Natural gas producers will face a three percent tax. And health care providers will face nearly $240 million in assessments and surcharges, that will surely increase fees at hospitals and nursing homes throughout the state. Paterson’s office believes that revenues from these fees will increase to nearly $334 million the following year. The health care surcharges come on top of nearly $1 billion in cuts on health care spending, meaning a drastic hit in the wallet to sick and elderly New Yorkers.

The Empire State is not the only state facing plummeting revenue during the recession. But nearby governors have rejected increased taxation as a way of balancing the books. Governor James Douglas of Vermont is rolling back estate taxes and returning the state to its 40 percent capital gains tax exemption, effectively a $9 million dollar tax cut, while cutting bureaucracy in human services programs in Montpelier.

Closer to home, incoming Governor Chris Christie promised New Jersey at his inauguration this week, “Today, a new era of lower taxes and higher growth will begin.” Christie promised to “cut red tape and make it easier for the entrepreneur to create new jobs and the business owner to keep them ... [to] and revisit the complex web of rules woven by various special interests over many years”

Governor Paterson’s proposals for a billion dollars in tax hikes and increased fees comes just ten days after delivering a speech in which he said that New Yorkers could not tax their way out of the economic slump.

In other attempts to generate revenue, Paterson proposes legalizing professional mixed martial arts fights in New York and charging an 8.5 percent admissions tax on matches and exhibitions, similar to those already imposed on wrestling.

Automated cameras will be deployed in workzones and dangerous highway areas, issuing $50 and $100 fines for speeding. Empire State residents are expected to fork over $32.9 million in the next year, and nearly $90 million in 2011-2012.

Putnam politicians are already decrying Paterson’s budget. Assemblyman Greg Ball has called for tax decreases on small businesses to encourage growth. “Governor Paterson should have cut spending over last year’s budget, not increased it, “ said Ball. “The governor just handed a blank check to [Assembly speaker] Sheldon Silver and his elitist and corrupt legislature to continue the binge spending and knee jerk taxing.”

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