Niagara Gazette

Local News

March 23, 2013

Truth on the taxes|State budget, called a tax cutter, was built on hikes


Niagara Gazette — The independent Citizens Budget Commission sees this budget as extending a temporary 2009 tax increase a second time. Cuomo and legislators also struck a deal even though their own commission that is developing broader, fairer tax changes is still in the early stages of discussion. The millionaires tax wasn't scheduled to sunset until next year, but action now avoids that election year action.

The fiscal watchdog called that "the wrong message."

The tax increases come from a governor who promised to end New York's image as a high-tax state. But economic recovery is much slower and more uneven than was predicted when Cuomo and the Legislature extended the millionaires tax the first time in 2011.

Oddly, the politicians seem to be underselling one of the budget's undeniable accomplishments.

The budget keeps state spending under 2 percent again, a streak under Cuomo that was once unthinkable even in hard times, while spending by state agencies is flat. In the public sector, with its wildly rising health care, labor and pension costs, that's akin to cutting up to 8 percent.

That's no minor feat considering the budget grew from $85 billion 10 years ago to $135 billion now and had average increases in spending of 6 percent — with some hikes hitting 10 percent.

But voters should plan for a hard sell that this was a tax-cutting budget when Cuomo tours the state and legislators head back to their districts.

"The attitude of the governor and the Legislature seems to be that that they don't like the facts being written" in the press, McMahon said. "They want their spin ... but ultimately they don't care what you say and will go directly to the people and hammer them with, 'This is the best family-friendly budget in years!'"

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