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OPINION: New Year, an Old Problem — Inflation

By Will Barclay

Date:

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released its most-updated data regarding inflation and spending trends in the U.S. The numbers aren’t just bad; they’re historically bad. The rate of inflation has hit a 40-year high. And the latest announcement came with no immediate solution from New York State’s legislative majorities or Gov. Hochul to address this worsening problem.

Across the state and nation, people are reeling as inflation continues to climb. The consumer price index, which measures the cost of dozens of items used by Americans each day, was up a startling 7 percent. This is simply unsustainable.

Rising inflation, naturally, hits lower- and middle-income families the hardest. People on a fixed income, like senior citizens, are especially vulnerable. For example, shelter costs, which represent close to one-third of all costs measured in the data, were up 4.1 percent last year. That pace marks the fastest spike in nearly 15 years. 

The truth is, New York’s leaders have it well within their ability to provide help during this volatile economic period, but they seem unwilling to address it head-on or propose solutions. Even California’s governor has proposed suspending a scheduled gas-tax increase in an effort to keep prices under control. New York Democrats have failed to act. 

On the flip side, to combat rising costs, which our minority conference in the New York Assembly has been actively working to mitigate for months, I recently introduced the “Inflation Relief & Consumer Assistance Plan.” The bill, A.8481, calls for a two-year suspension of state sales tax on many everyday purchases New Yorkers rely upon like prepared food, to-go orders and personal-care items.

Among the items this tax reprieve would impact is gasoline, which would decrease by 8 cents per gallon under our proposed cuts. Further, cleaning products, like laundry detergent and disinfectants, and personal-care items, such as shampoo and soap, would cost 4 percent less under our plan. All in all, the additional costs associated with this historic inflation are costing New York’s families hundreds of dollars each month. That money is essential at a time when economic uncertainty has seeped into every facet of our personal and professional lives.

 The majority conferences of the legislature, which have shown no hesitation to tax New Yorkers at will and spend the public’s hard-earned money, continue to sit on their hands during this historic spike. Our conference is proposing a simple, direct solution to address this spiraling problem. It’s long past time they bring this bill to the floor and give our residents the assistance they so obviously need.        

William (Will) A. Barclay, Republican, is the New York Assembly minority leader and represents the 120th New York Assembly District, which encompasses most of Oswego County, including the cities of Oswego and Fulton, as well as the town of Lysander in Onondaga County and town of Ellisburg in Jefferson County.