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New York Needs Broad-Based Tax Relief

By Marc W. Butler

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Recently, the Tax Foundation released its state-by-state rankings of business tax climates, and New York’s placement improved by two slots to 48th place. This improvement is good news, but it highlights that there is still much work to be done. New York is not quite ready for a victory lap.

Let’s not kid ourselves. Our state’s job creators — from manufacturers, to family farmers, to mom-and-pop shops — are surviving in spite of, not because of New York’s overzealous tax code and regulations. To shift from surviving to thriving, the state must simplify its tax code and provide tax relief to all New Yorkers and job creators.

In recent years, we’ve made progress providing more tax relief to New Yorkers. In the last few years, we’ve changed the tax code to give middle-class families the lowest tax rate in over 60 years. Legislators agreed to pass a 2 percent property-tax cap, and even the governor was given approval for his property-tax freeze scheme. This year, we passed measures that simplify and lower taxes to help retain and grow jobs in our state.

I am proud of these efforts, but we can and must do more.

A few things must happen. New York state must continue to show restraint in its spending and it must not be afraid to go deep and get at the root of problems. For example, there may be a perceived consensus in Albany that property taxes have been a problem, but it hasn’t stopped the rate of property taxes from growing so fast in recent decades that homeowners, farmers, and job creators could hardly keep up.

Legislators agreed to pass a 2 percent tax cap, and recently the governor got approval on his tax-freeze scheme, but he and the legislature have shied away from addressing the real problem behind high property taxes — unfunded mandates. In short, unfunded mandates are the programs and policies that Albany passes, but expects local governments to fund. It’s a community-crippling practice.

New York needs jobs and economic growth, and for years the state has thrown incentives and tax breaks to companies, rather than addressing the underlying problem. Job-killing taxes like the corporate franchise tax were too high and the code is quite complicated. This was making our state unfriendly to businesses and the jobs we needed.

It is my hope that the state becomes more honest about the problems facing New Yorkers. Idealizing the state of our state isn’t helpful to any of us. It’s our job to address and root out the problems facing our citizens and our economy.

Seeing New York as it really is can help us return it to its status as the Empire State. Our families and businesses deserve no less.

Marc W. Butler (R,C,I–Newport) is a New York State Assemblyman for the 118th District, which encompasses parts of Oneida, Herkimer, and St. Lawrence counties, as well as all of Hamilton and Fulton counties. Contact him at butlerm@assembly.state.ny.us

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