Thursday, December 18, 2008

GOVERNOR PATERSON'S 137 TAX AND FEE INCREASES WILL COST THE AVERAGE NEW YORK FAMILY $3,875.48, COULD LEAD TO THE LOSS OF 1-IN-10 JOBS

The 137 tax and fee increases within Governor Paterson's 2009-10 Executive Budget will cost the average New York family an extra $3,875.48 annually. This is a "gut punch" to New York's middle class already hurting from a terrible economy, home foreclosures and loss of real wages.

The analysis, compiled by the Assembly Republican Ways and Means Committee, found that Governor Paterson's 137 tax and fee increases - imposed on everything from digital music downloads to soda - could potentially lead to the loss of one-in-ten jobs.

These 137 tax and fee increases sought by Governor Paterson mean state government is digging even deeper into the pockets of New York's middle class families, many of whom are already reeling from the recession. His tax and fee hikes send absolutely the worst possible message, at the worst possible time, for middle class families who are losing their jobs, losing their houses and seeing their incomes and home values decline.

While families cut back and make sacrifices, Governor Paterson would have state government take even more, ultimately deepening and prolonging the recession. All these tax and fee hikes are like declaring war on New York's middle class families.

The following are some of the products and services Governor Paterson's Executive Budget would raise taxes or fees on: cable and satellite television; pay per view movies; cigars; discount coupons; haircuts; beauty salons; health clubs; weight loss programs; fishing; camping; malt-flavored beverages; digital music downloads; drinks from non-diet soda to Gatorade, Hawaiian Punch and Hi-C; beer; wine; car rentals; limousine services; taxis; movies; health
insurance; seed dealers; parents of children with special needs; boilers; explosives; horse entrance fees; sporting events; gasoline; clothing; jewelry; footwear; automobile purchases; registration and driving fees.

According to Stephen Kagann, former state chief economist, every $100 million in new taxes imposed during a recession leads to a loss of 11,400 private sector jobs. Governor Paterson's tax and fee hikes total $6 billion, meaning a loss of 600,000 jobs. When added to the administration's forecast of 180,000 jobs expected to be lost in 2009, it is a very real possibility that one-in-ten jobs in New York State could be threatened. That isn't doomsday - it's an economic apocalypse.

ITEMIZED BREAKDOWN OF THE $3,875.48 COST TO THE AVERAGE NEW YORK FAMILY FROM GOVERNOR PATERSON’S TAX AND FEE INCREASES.
(Click on the chart to enlarge)


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

How to Save the State Billions of Dollars

In November, I sent a letter to Governor Paterson including the Assembly Republican Conference's proposals to address New York’s fiscal crisis. They are listed below:

- Eliminate Member Items: There is approximately $200 million per year allocated for Member Items for the Legislature and Governor. Elected officials in State government should lead by example and cut the pork;

- Collect sales taxes on Native American lands: New York State needs to enforce the law and collect taxes from purchases made on Native American lands. It is estimated that doing so would generate over $1 billion annually;

- “Sweep” fund balances: To enhance transparency of the budget process, we propose State Agencies provide timely notification – when projects or lines in the State budget are completed – if a fund balance exists, or when a shortfall in funding has occurred. This will allow us to identify any unused or residual taxpayer monies;

- Freeze State employee hiring: To increase State efficiencies and reduce costs, we should continue to support a hard hiring freeze of all State employees;

- Suspend State employee travel: As another method of increasing State efficiencies, all employee travel should be suspended, except for health and safety purposes, until this current financial crisis is resolved;

- Suspend State vehicle purchases: The State should suspend the purchase of new State vehicles, except for health and safely purposes. This could save taxpayers over $500,000 annually;

- Merge State Agencies: Merging the Insurance and Banking Departments into the Office of Financial Services; the Consumer Protection Board with the Department of Law; the Crime Victims Board with the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and the Racing Reform Program into Racing and Wagering could save nearly $9.8 million;

- Enact a 15% Non-Personal Service (NPS) cut: A 15 percent reduction in all General Fund Non-Personal Service appropriations in every State agency, board, office or department, should be made. This reduction does not seek to eliminate any State workforce jobs. But it would reduce State spending by $416 million;

- Implement the “State Agency Fiscal Efficiency” (S.A.F.E.) Program: This initiative would empower State Agencies to temporarily transition to a four-day work week, where employees would take one day off without pay. Discussion with labor leaders would be necessary. The program would be voluntary;

- Eliminate Reappropriations: After five fiscal years, all cash reappropriations should be eliminated, except for capital projects. If an organization can’t spend all of its appropriated funding within five years of it being provided, those funds should be eliminated; and

- Eliminate “Ghost Ship” Commissions: Our Conference established a W.A.S.T.E. (Waste At State Taxpayer’s Expense) Taskforce, to identify all the State Commissions that still receive State funding even though they have finished their assigned task or are no longer relevant. Eliminating these Commissions would save taxpayers hundreds of thousands, if not more. We all understand Commission members can make a case to continue, but our economic condition must take precedence.

Certainly, this list is by no means exhaustive. Nevertheless, these proposals can serve as a starting point for our continued deliberations as we face one of the most challenging budget cycles in recent memory.

I am confident that if we can set politics aside and move toward bi-partisan solutions, we will ensure our state emerges from the current crisis stronger than ever. Our Assembly Republican Conference is ready, willing and able to meet this challenge by returning fiscal responsibility to state government and, in the process, guaranteeing a better and brighter future for all New Yorkers.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My Response to the Governor's Budget

Governor Paterson today unveiled his 2009-10 Executive Budget for the Legislature's consideration, nearly a full month before he was constitutionally required to do so. I commend the Governor for bringing a quick start to this budget process. With a state deficit approaching $15 billion, this budget process will be decidedly difficult and painful. The reality is that there are no easy answers or quick fixes.

I am approaching this budget process and the Governor's budget with a focus on three core principles: no new taxes or tax hikes, the need to invest in our Upstate and suburban economies and reining in the size, cost and reach of government. Regrettably, on the first principle, the Governor's budget falls short. Governor Paterson's budget raises taxes - and even imposes new taxes - on middle class families and small businesses by almost $4 billion.

Instead of raising taxes, we need to be reducing them. Cutting taxes, providing overtaxed homeowners a real property tax cap, and investing in jobs to grow our hurting economy - especially in Upstate and the suburbs - those areas should command our attention.

Throughout this upcoming session, I will work with the Governor. New York cannot afford legislators from either party acting as agents of delay or obstruction. We need real leadership, real solutions. We are the Empire State and we will get through this crisis and emerge stronger than before.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

EPA’S PROPOSAL TO TAX LIVESTOCK GAS AND FLATULENCE IS AN IDEA THAT STINKS


I’m calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop any consideration of a proposal that would impose a tax on “livestock emissions. This measure would add another burden on New York’s already beleaguered family farmers.

A recent Associated Press news article reported that, in the wake of a 2007 United States Supreme Court ruling that livestock gaseous emissions may contribute to global climate change and thus constitute a form of airborne pollution, the EPA is exploring the possibility of assessing a tax on certain farmers and ranchers.

The proposal, still in its preliminary stages, would impose a tax on farms or ranches having over 200 hogs, 50 cattle or 25 dairy cows. It would require them to pay a yearly charge of approximately $20 for each hog, $87.50 per head of cattle and $175 per dairy cow. The tax is applicable to farms whose livestock operations produce over 100 tons of carbon emissions annually and are subject to the Clean Air Act.

At the same time our state endures an economic recession, the EPA thinks it’s wise to impose a new tax on family farms and agri-businesses? If ever there was need for a crystal clear example of a federal agency completely out-of-touch with reality, the EPA just filled that bill.

This proposal from the EPA would only add to the financial challenges facing family farmers and New York’s agri-businesses. Why the EPA would seek to impose new taxes – while Upstate farmers are struggling in one of the worst economies in recent years – is simply beyond me. New York’s Congressional delegation should ensure this ludicrous plan goes nowhere fast.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Governor Paterson Needs to get Silver on Board for Needed Property Tax Cap Relief

The State Commission on Property Tax Relief has delivered its final report to Governor Paterson and the State Legislature. They have done an outstanding job and have made their recommendations carefully and thoughtfully. As my Assembly Republicans Conference and I carefully review the Commission’s final report, at first glance I support many of its suggestions, most importantly the need for a real property tax cap. The Commission’s recognition of the significant role that unfunded mandate relief must play in reducing property taxes is also important and should similarly command the Legislature’s attention.

If the Governor is seriously about making the property tax cap a reality for New Yorkers, he needs to include the Commission’s recommendations in the 2009-10 Executive Budget. If he gives us a budget that includes these key changes to New York’s property tax system, he will be sending a clear message of his intentions and his support for a property tax cap.

Over the years, my Republican Conference and I have warned of New York’s growing property tax crisis and the immediate need for a real property tax cap. We have been pushing for the passage of the “New York State Property Taxpayer Protection Act,” legislation that would cap property taxes. The fact that New Yorkers are paying some of the highest property taxes in the nation is unacceptable.

For this to change, Albany must change. This is not a partisan issue; Speaker Silver needs to recognize that New Yorkers need property tax relief now. He’s the only leader in Albany who has opposed the cap; he needs to let the property tax cap issue come to the Assembly floor for a vote. The Senate passed a property tax cap back in August, and the Assembly has failed to do so, this clearly illustrates Albany’s need for change.

It is sad, but not surprising, that the Speaker turned a deaf ear to the pleas for help from New York homeowners being crushed by property taxes. New York is deep in an economic crisis and the Commission’s final report should be the catalyst to push the Speaker to act. Governor Paterson should use his power and appeal to the media and the public to encourage the Speaker to end his opposition to the property tax cap. The Speaker can use our tax cap bill – Assembly Bill A.8775-A – as a starting point.

I again want to commend the Commission on its hard work, bringing their recommendations for property tax relief to Albany. Chairman Tom Suozzi and the Commission have done a great job advancing the cause of property tax relief by proposing the adoption of a property tax cap to solve New York’s tax crisis.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More Inaction From Speaker Silver

Today I sat down at a five-way meeting with the Governor and the Leaders of the Senate and Assembly to try to address the State’s looming budget deficit. I hoped we would be able to bring some proposals to the table and discuss any ideas that would help close the budget gap. I brought with me a lot of ideas that I think could really help the present situation, but Speaker Silver hardly spoke up, he didn’t offer any new ideas or even which of Governor Paterson’s ideas he was supporting.

The only thing Speaker Silver mentioned was his sudden opposition to one-house bills. The reality is that the Speaker brought 1,153 one-house bills to the Assembly floor last year. It is amazing to me that the Speaker today condemned against such actions, when he passed a bill in the August 19 special session that would have created a $1.75 billion job-killing tax. Why, when it comes to trying to figure out how to reduce spending, one-house bills are off the table, yet he eagerly supported a bill that would increase state taxes?

Speaker Silver has long been a supporter of increased spending and has helped put New York in its present fiscal crisis. The State is in an economic ditch, and the media should demand that he explain his contributions to New York’s budget problems.

Today’s special session was pointless and accomplished nothing, but it cost New York’s taxpayers $40,000. Webster’s Dictionary may want to consider redefining the word ‘irony’.

The Governor needs to lead by example. He should have asked the Speaker directly which cuts he was supporting and he should have asked for at least one idea from him to address our fiscal problem. The Governor let the Speaker off the hook.

Today was a circus. I’m sad to say the dysfunction in New York State government has gotten worse. For the good of the taxpayers, this trend must change immediately.


Here's a small segment of the meeting where all the leaders had a chance to argue their positions. I came in towards the end.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

END "GHOST SHIP" COMMISSIONS OPERATING WITH TAXPAYER DOLLARS



In response to news that the State Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness still operates with a $400,000 appropriation - even though it issued its final report back in April, I'm calling for an investigation into whether other commissions that have also concluded their missions continue to operate on the taxpayer's dime.

Jay Gallagher of Gannett News first reported on the State Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness still operating with taxpayer monies. I wrote to State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli to determine if other state commissions - paid for by New York taxpayers - continue to function in a similar inefficient and wasteful manner.

New York State is in the midst of a fiscal crisis, the likes of which we haven't seen in quite some time. We have a budget deficit of $5.4 billion. Our debt is over $52 billion. Wall Street continues suffering aftershocks from the sub-prime mortgage meltdown and credit crunch. State government is considering further budget cuts and some interest groups are pushing billions in crippling, new taxes. Without question, it's imperative that state government lead by example in tightening its belt to ferret out any waste and inefficiencies.

One place to begin is investigating how many state commissions continue operating, despite having served their original purpose. Case in point is the State Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness, which was convened by former Governor Spitzer back in 2007 and issued its final report in April of 2008. With New York State mired in fiscal crisis, is there any reason why this commission - with a budget of $400,000 - continues being paid for by New York taxpayers? It boggles the mind.

This is a 'ghost ship' commission. It continues to operate even though its work was already completed. I have a sinking feeling that this ghost ship commission isn't the only one sailing on the taxpayer's dime.

When our Assembly Republican Conference talks about cutting out all the 'fat' and inefficiencies from state government, this is exactly what we are referring to. Who knows how many millions in taxpayer dollars have been wasted on these ghost ship commissions? We need answers because taxpayers deserve accountability.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

My Appearance on the Glenn Beck Show

Last night I went on the Glenn Beck show to speak about New York's budget crisis and about Speaker Silver's failure to address the problem.

My Comments at the Press Conference Addressing New York's Budget Crisis

Cutting the budget by $427 million is a good start, but more needs to be done to control New York's spending.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

TEDISCO: SPEAKER SILVER REFUSES TO ENACT TAX CAP, BUT PUSHES $2.6 BILLION IN NEW TAXES

today I characterized Speaker Sheldon Silver's failure to pass a real property tax cap during the Special Session - and instead attempt to ram through another $2.6 billion in tax hikes - as defying the will of a majority of New Yorkers and Governor David Paterson.

It's the height of irresponsibility for the Speaker to have again blocked a real property tax cap from becoming law. Not only did the Speaker refuse to act on the property tax cap, he tried to raise New York's already crushing tax burden by another $2.6 billion. That isn't just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, it's dropping anchor.

This behavior leads me to one of two conclusions: either Speaker Silver is unaware of New York's fiscal crisis - and what it will take to actually fix it - or, he is more concerned with advancing a political agenda than helping people. Regardless of the motivation, it is the overtaxed, overburdened, fed-up families across New York who will pay the price for his unwillingness to lead.

The Speaker and his entire Conference will have to answer for the tax slap they gave homeowners. The hollow arguments being advanced by the Speaker and his Conference to justify raising taxes by an additional $2.6 billion have gone from laughable to surreal. Everyone knows New York doesn't have a revenue problem - it has a spending problem. The reason New York faces a $6.4 billion budget deficit, a $54 billion debt and has seen thousands of our best and brightest leave is not because taxes are too low. It is because Albany is broken and hopelessly addicted to taxing, spending and borrowing.

Majority Leader Skelos guided the State Senate in enacting a property tax cap almost two weeks ago. Today was a perfect opportunity for the Assembly to follow suit. Yet, the Speaker thought it more important to keep the property tax cap from ever reaching the Assembly floor.

Monday, August 11, 2008

New York's Credit Cards Are Maxed Out


With a growing budget deficit, the time is now for New York State to tighten its belt. The best way to achieve this is to cut spending instead of raising taxes. The governor realizes this and I applaud him for being forward-thinking. I will stand shoulder to shoulder with the governor as we look to right New York's ship.

Families across the state are cutting back on spending. We, as a state, must do the same. Lawmakers must be problem-solvers and I urge my colleagues to take the measures needed to work on eliminating the budget deficit.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Positive Way To Keep Kids Safe

Today, at the Glenville Police Station, I launched the 11th annual Safe Summer Program. Officers from nearly two dozen capital region police departments will be out issuing tickets to youngsters on their bikes throughout the summer. With the help of Stewart's, Friendly's and Ben and Jerry's, children spotted wearing a helmet will receive a ticket for free ice cream. We want to keep things positive and reward them for exhibiting safe behavior.
Bike riding is a fun activity, but without proper gear it could be dangerous. Helmets can help prevent serious injury and even save the lives of bike riders. The children there today were all wearing the right safety gear and were very happy to receive their coupons.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

WILL SPEAKER SILVER LISTEN TO THE PUBLIC?

A massive convoy of hundreds of truckers made their voices heard today as they converged around the State Capitol. The truckers are fed up with New York's excessive gas prices and gas taxes. They were blowing their air horns in sheer frustration with the pain at the pump. I urge Speaker Sheldon Silver to hear the truckers' concerns and do something about fuel costs.

For months, my Assembly Republican colleagues and I have been calling on Speaker Silver to do something about rising fuel costs. The record prices are having a negative financial impact on truckers, motorists, businesses and consumers. Rising fuel costs have driven up the price of practically everything from a loaf of bread to a gallon of milk, along with nearly every other basic necessity that families depend on.

Our Conference sponsored legislation that would provide these truckers, and all motorists, with a much-needed summertime gas tax holiday. The measure would provide a savings of nearly 33-cents per gallon of gasoline and 31-cents per gallon of diesel fuel for motorists to help reduce the sticker shock too many drivers receive when they fill their tanks.

The question remains: will Speaker Silver and his Assembly Democrat Conference listen? New York can't afford their continued delays. Motorists and consumers deserve relief and they should get it before this session ends.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

ASSEMBLY REPUBLICAN LEADER JIM TEDIS*COW*

June is National Dairy Month. In recognition of that, I and my Assembly Republican colleagues held our annual Dairy Day Reception. The event recognized New York's dairy farmers and the vital role they play in our state's economy. We brought them together to showcase their high-quality products. There was also an appearance by a calf who captured the attention of everyone who came. Even the dairy cow was there. As a non politician, he didn't "utter" a word.

This is a video of my introduction to the calf.

Friday, June 13, 2008

TAX RELIEF FOR NEW YORKERS

The end of the legislative session is fast approaching. There’s only one full week left before lawmakers leave for summer vacation. Now is the time to take action and cap property taxes at 4 percent or the rate of inflation – whichever is lower.

I don’t have to tell you that New Yorkers pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation. The Governor is on board. Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver have said they’re ready to do it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

PROPERTY TAX RELIEF



“By recommending the adoption of a real property tax cap, the State Commission on Property Tax Relief has confirmed what countless overburdened homeowners, small businesses and family farmers have known for years: property taxes in New York have reached a crisis level. Our state’s dubious distinction of having some of the highest property taxes in the nation is proof positive that these crushing burdens represent the single biggest threat to the quality of life for New York homeowners.

Our Assembly Republican Conference realized this years ago – and has been calling for a real property tax cap ever since. Some of the Commission’s recommendations mirror our ‘New York State Property Taxpayer Protection Act’ – Assembly Bill A.8775-A. Our initiative should serve as an effective starting point for any serious and substantive discussions on how our state can make achieving a real property tax cap a reality. Failure to enact a property tax cap before our Legislative session concludes on June 23 would send a terrible message to overtaxed homeowners being crushed in a painful ‘middle class squeeze’ of high property taxes, Thruway tolls, food and fuel costs.

I commend Governor Paterson and Commission Chairman Suozzi for their political courage in supporting a property tax cap. Our entire Conference will work with them in a bi-partisan, cooperative manner to achieve adoption of a much-needed, and long overdue, real property tax cap.”

Monday, June 2, 2008

CARE - CHILD ASSAULT REFORM ACT

The tragic shooting death of a ten year-old in the City of Albany sent shockwaves throughout the Capital Region. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family in this difficult and painful time.

I was saddened after learning the little girl was riding her bike in front of her home when she was hit by a what police believe was a stray bullet. This type of crime isn’t limited to the city of Albany. There’s too much violence affecting our children everywhere.

In light of this tragedy, I along with Assembly Republicans and local law enforcement are supporting a new initiative called CARE – CHILD ASSAULT REFORM ACT.

Protecting children is our number one priority. We have an obligation to make sure they’re safe in our streets. CARE would increase penalties on criminals who kill or injure children under 12 years old. I believe this measure would send a strong message to would-be criminals that they will face greater punishment should they harm or kill a child.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Gas Tax Plan



PLEASE USE THE FORM ON THE LEFT AND SIGN UP TODAY AND JOIN THE FIGHT ON THE GAS TAX. OR DOWNLOAD THE PETITION HERE

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A SUMMER HOLIDAY FROM HIGH GAS PRICES



As gas prices continue climbing to record highs with no end in sight, I and the Assembly Republican Conference want to relieve some of the pain at the pump by instituting a “summer holiday” from state gas taxes. Motorists and small businesses are certainly feeling the pinch.

Our summer gas tax holiday would, on average, provide a nearly .30-cent savings per gallon of gasoline and a .35-cent savings per gallon of diesel fuel.

Record high gas prices are putting a serious strain on motorists’ wallets, family budgets and small business bottom lines. High gas prices are a big part of the painful ‘middle class squeeze’ New Yorkers are enduring. New York’s overtaxed, overburdened, overregulated motorists deserve a holiday from high gas taxes, especially during the summertime months when more families traditionally take to the roadways.

High gas prices have a negative multiplier effect, driving up the cost of everyday goods as small businesses bear the price of higher fuel costs and ultimately pass it onto consumers. The fastest way to put the brakes on rising fuel, food and other commodity costs is by instituting a much-needed holiday from state fuel taxes for motorists and small businesses.

I and the Assembly Republican Conference also support the proposal recently put forth by Republican Presidential nominee Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) that would institute a summertime fuel tax holiday by suspending federal gas taxes. McCain’s “Gas Tax Holiday” amendment would temporarily shelve the 18.4-cent per gallon Federal gas tax between Memorial Day and Labor Day 2008.

It is simple economics: when people have to spend more on basic necessities like fuel and food, they have less to spend elsewhere, causing a further drag on an economy already mired in recession. By removing federal and state taxes on a gallon of gas, we can provide some measure of short-term relief that motorists and small businesses have been calling for. My Republican colleagues and I applaud Senator McCain for being the presidential candidate who was first in addressing this pressing issue.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Tax Freedom Day


I and the Assembly Republican Conference today observed New York's "Tax Freedom Day," by calling for passage of several targeted legislative initiatives which would reduce the state's crushing tax burden on families.

"Tax Freedom Day" refers to the amount of days individuals must work to earn enough money to pay their combined tax obligations at the federal, state and local levels. According to the independent, non-partisan Tax Foundation, New York's 2008 Tax Freedom Day is May 5, the third-highest in the nation. Only New Jersey (May 7) and Connecticut(May 8) have Tax Freedom Days falling later than New York State.

Friday, April 11, 2008

My Take on the State Budget

The budget was a few days late, but it finally passed. Here's my take on what's inside the budget.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Mothership Returns

The General Conference Committee on the state budget (known as the Mothership), made up of leaders from both sides of the aisle and both houses of the legislature, met again today to begin to flesh out the details of the budget framework we agreed to last night. Here's my comments at that meeting.

A Framework of A Budget In Place

Here's my comments at a press conference late last night with Gov. Paterson, Senator Bruno, Speaker Silver and Senator Smith on what can only be described as a herculean effort to get this done.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

March Madness Predictions


In recent weeks, I've been right on target with my predictions, whether it be the Giants winning the Super Bowl by 3 points, hitting the bulls eye in an ax-throwing competition, or predicting how much money the state will have to spend for next year’s budget. Here's my pick to win the NCAA March Madness Men's Basketball Tournament.

Tedisco in 60: Budget Update


This week, I discuss where I believe we're at with a little more than a week to go before the state budget is due on April 1.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Mothership Has Landed...

The "Mothership" is the nickname for the General Conference Committee on the state budget. The first such meeting for this year's state budget was held last night. Here's my comments from that inaugural meeting.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

TEDISCO RIGHT ON TARGET
















I was out in front of the State Capitol participating in an ax-throwing competition with lumberjacks from Paul Smith's College.

These young lumberjacks were extremely impressive. They're a good group of young kids, very athletic and energetic. They're obviously good teachers because they taught me how to throw an ax.

Today is a special day. I got to throw an ax. Not only did I get to throw an ax, I showed I was pretty much on target because I hit the bullseye. Hopefully I can be as effective and helpful with our new governor at hitting the bullseye in helping him get a budget in place in two weeks.

Monday, March 17, 2008

My Take on Gov. Paterson

This is from a press conference I held shortly after Governor Paterson's swearing in ceremony.



Friday, March 14, 2008

MY MEETING WITH GOVERNOR DESIGNATE DAVID PATERSON



I met with Governor Designate David Paterson during a media availability at the State Capitol. Paterson will be officially sworn-in as New York State's 55th Governor on Monday, March 17, 2008.

We discussed the upcoming State Budget and outlined some of our top legislative priorities, including providing real property tax relief, controlling spending and improving the quality of life for all New Yorkers.

David Paterson is a good friend, a respected colleague and a dedicated, inspirational public servant who can reach across Albany's partisan divide and help move our state toward a better and brighter future for all its citizens. I, and our entire Assembly Republican Conference, look forward to working with David Paterson to find common ground and real solutions that will help make New York a better place to live, work and raise a family.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Spitzer's Resignation

A NEW CHAPTER FOR NEW YORK

David Paterson's life story is, in a word, inspirational. His public record is one of overcoming obstacles, showing true character in the face of daunting adversity and being able to bridge Albany's bitter partisan divide that has, regrettably, widened into a chasm in recent years.

Governor Paterson knows the meaning of honor and has shown in both his deeds and words that he is a man of the highest public and personal integrity. His inherent decency and desire to put advancing the interests of the 18 and a half million New Yorkers we represent ahead of political partisanship will truly be a breath of fresh air.

I, and our entire Assembly Republican Conference, are ready, willing and able to work with Governor Paterson to get our state back on track by passing a responsible budget that provides real property tax relief, controls spending and meets the real needs of the New Yorkers we collectively represent. We have serious work to do and it is time for New York to put the scandal behind us and for State government to get back to work. David Paterson's ascension to the governorship is the first step in that direction.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Spitzer Scandal Press Conference Video

video

Here's video from my press conference today where I called on the Governor to resign in light of his purported involvement in a prostitution scandal.

Governor Spitzer's Scandal

“Today’s news that Eliot Spitzer was likely involved with a prostitution ring and his refusal to deny it leads to one inescapable conclusion: he has disgraced his office and the entire state of New York. He should resign his office immediately. Public service is a public trust – Eliot Spitzer violated this trust and has forsaken his oath of office. For the good of his family, for the good of our state, for the good of the governorship, Eliot Spitzer must resign immediately. He is unfit to lead our state and unfit to hold public office.”

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Tedisco in 60: Stop The Brain Drain in New York State


This week I address the need to make our state more competitive and keep our young people from going elsewhere with their top notch New York State education.

Monday, March 3, 2008

My Appearance on Capital News 9 To Talk Budget Issues

Last night, I appeared live on Capital News 9 to discuss the state budget and this weekend’s revenue consensus among state leaders. The fact that we have been able to work together and reach a bi-partisan consensus on state revenue marks a significant step forward. It’s turning a page on the type of bitter, partisan acrimony that, quite frankly, New Yorkers are sick and tired of. Here’s an excerpt from the Capital News 9 story:

www.capitalnews9.comLow budget numbers could have an upsideUpdated: 03/03/2008 08:12 AMBy: Web Staff

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco said that although there may be less money, a challenging budget could benefit New Yorkers in the long run.

"But that may give us the opportunity for once as a legislature and with the executive to stand up and make those tough decisions which can be a standard for future budgets and that is we can't create a perfect world, we can't say yes to every group, but we can have a better quality of life here if we stick to funding those priorities of the people we represent," Tedisco said.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tedisco in 60: Mr. Speaker, Don't Worry, Be Happy About Property Tax Caps

This week, I address the Speaker's concerns about property tax caps.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A BILL TO CLOSE LOOPHOLE IN STATE’S CHILD ABUSER REGISTRY

In response to a Saratoga Springs school bus driver’s recent arrest for accusations that he sexually abused two boys, I’m taking action to better protect children. The school district was unable to learn that, dating back to 2002, the man had appeared on a state-run registry of possible child abusers. I will introduce legislation to close that loophole.

When I learned about the arrest and the fact that school officials were unable to access a state registry that could have alerted them to his having been flagged as a potential danger to youths back in 2002, I saw a glaring loophole that cried out for immediate closure.

As helpful a tool as the State’s Central Registry is, it could be even more effective if a representative on behalf of a school was allowed to access it. It seems counterproductive to deny schools access to this registry, as doing so keeps important information out of the hands of the very people who should know if someone’s been flagged as a potential child abuser. Clearly, there is a compelling interest in school nurses – the health care professionals specifically trained to recognize signs of abuse, physical or otherwise, among students – having access to the registry.

That’s why my legislation would add school nurses to the category of individuals who can access the State Central Registry.

Friday, February 22, 2008

No Tax On Rebate Checks is Good: Meaningful Property Tax Relief Would Be Even Better

The Governor said that forthcoming federal tax rebate checks – which Congress approved and the President recently signed into law as part of a national economic stimulus package – will not be subject to state income taxes. We need the Governor to take the next step and deliver meaningful tax relief by making New York’s property tax rebate check program whole by rescinding the proposed cuts made in the 2008-09 Executive Budget. Another positive step would be making the property tax rebate checks exempt from state income taxes, just as the federal rebate checks are.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tedisco in 60: T-Minus 40 Days to Budget Deadline

Just 40 days left until the budget is due. This week, I talk about what the legislature and Governor can do to get the budget done on time the right way.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Your family now owes NYS $575 -- $102 more than 3 weeks ago

My staff just completed its analysis of the amendments to the Governor's budget and found that the increases in taxes and fees contained in it would cost the average New York State family $575.20 a year. As you may recall, I blogged on January 23rd on this and at that time the total cost to New York families was $473. These amendments put the squeeze on middle-class taxpayers even more than the hit the Governor originally placed on them.

Governor Spitzer's Budget - Cost to an Average Family

Proposal Cost/Family

Tuition
Community College Tuition $100

DMV
Endorsement Fee for WHTI compliant drivers license $80

Insurance
Increased Motor Vehicle Insurance Fee ($15 X 2 cars) $30

Mortgage Recording Fee
County optional increase $20
Per page filing fee increase ($2 X 11 pages) $22

Gas Tax Merger
Tax Increase per Family $12

Health Costs
Health Maintenance Organization Tax $157
Covered Lives Assessment $43

Internet Tax
Tax Increase per Family $15

Groceries
Bottle Bill per Family $31.20

Middle Class Star Rebate
No increase for Basic STAR Recipients $65

TOTAL COST PER FAMILY $575.20

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tedisco in 60: NYRA Agreement

This week, I focus on the NYRA agreement which I believe is good news for local taxpayers, the horsemen, the breeders, racing enthusiasts and for the future of racing in New York State.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Property Tax Relief Commission Video Part 3

...and here's the rest of my testimony.

Property Tax Relief Commission Video Part 2

Here's the second part of my testimony.

Property Tax Relief Commission Video Part 1

Here's the first part of my testimony today to the New York State Commission on Property Tax Relief. Part 2 and 3 will soon follow.

My Testimony Before the Property Tax Commission

I delivered the following testimony today to the New York State Commission on Property Tax Relief.

James Tedisco, Assembly Republican Leader
Written Testimony
Submitted into the Record on February 12, 2008

Chairman Thomas Suozzi, Commissioner Shirley Strum Kenny, Commissioner Basil Paterson, Commissioner Nicholas Pirro, Commissioner Michael Solomon, Commissioner Merryl Tisch, Commissioner Paul Tokasz, Special Advisors, Lisa Donner, Elizabeth Lynam, Karen Scharff, and Robert Ward, thank you for this opportunity to address the Commission today.

If we all stay quiet for a moment, I think that we can hear the continuous, collective sigh of every homeowner and property taxpayer in New York State – and that sucking sound you hear would be the flow of small businesses, jobs and the general population, ripping the very heart out of our economy as they exit New York State.

Unless a property tax cap is enacted and enacted soon, our state’s motto may very well change from “I Love New York,” to “I Leave New York.”

I think we all agree that reducing New York’s tremendously high tax burden is the number one issue facing the state during the 2008 Legislative Session.

In late 2007, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said that local property tax levies have grown by 60 percent from 1995 to 2005, more than twice the rate of inflation. Moreover, according to the Empire Center, over “1.2 million New York residents have moved to other states since 2000 – the biggest loss experienced by any state.” In 1993, Money Magazine called New York State a "Tax Hell" for having the nation's highest tax rates. Fast forward 15 years and our overall tax burden is still one of the heaviest in the nation, 56 percent higher than the national average. Even more alarming, a report issued by the Tax Foundation based on the latest Census data showed that New York’s counties hold the dubious distinction of being home to the highest tax rates in the country. In fact, when property taxes were measured as a percentage of home value, nine out of the top 10 highest-taxed counties in the nation were located in Upstate New York.

It is clear that high taxes are killing jobs and forcing people to leave the state. Out-of-control spending, coupled with skyrocketing property taxes has created a caustic financial environment for the taxpayers of New York State. Young people are finding it difficult to purchase homes, seniors are struggling to maintain their homes and businesses are facing immense challenges to retain jobs – no less create them. We need to reverse this trend and revitalize New York’s economy by providing incentives for people and businesses to move and stay here.

Governor Spitzer was right when he said, ‘economic storm clouds are gathering’ – they are. It’s a ‘perfect storm,’ a tsunami of high taxes, soaring gas prices, increasing health care costs and toll hikes that threaten to flood New Yorkers who are already working harder and longer, just to keep afloat. New Yorkers are feeling an economic squeeze that is forcing many to dip into their savings and retirement accounts or depend on credit cards or loans, just to meet everyday needs. As a result, people and businesses are departing in record numbers - leaving local governments with a dwindling tax base. Something needs to be done now!

For several years, our Conference has conducted task force hearings throughout the state on two critical issues: real property tax reform and identifying school district practices that lead to student success. Through the Assembly Republican Task Force on Real Property Tax Reform, one message was loud and clear - taxpayers want government to control spending and they want immediate tax relief, because they simply cannot afford to live in their communities anymore.

Our Assembly Republican Task Force on Successful Schools found that, above all, successful school districts stretched their funding as far as possible to achieve success.

Schools offered insight as to how they were able to “do more with less” and provide unique and creative programs that inspire student success. For instance, the task force found that successful schools stressed the importance of staff development and found that BOCES and Teacher Centers were essential to this effort. Although state aid is provided to fund professional development programs, it oftentimes is a limited resource, thus successful school districts have to be creative in their approach to stretch their finances. Through professional development programs, teachers worked together to identify overlapping and/or gaps in the curriculum and developed new uniform teaching methods focused on individual student learning needs. Often, professional development was achieved in-house and conducted above and beyond any contractual obligations. These measures not only benefited student academic growth but also taxpayers by streamlining services for a more efficient use of tax dollars.

Although the school districts the task force visited are successful, they always identified one constant impediment, unfunded, and oftentimes unnecessary, state mandates. Their request to us was simple - provide them with some relief.

Building upon these two major themes that emerged from task force events, our Conference has determined that one of the answers to controlling spending is to cap school property taxes, just as Massachusetts and other states have done successfully. Moreover, we agree that unnecessary unfunded state mandates bog down school districts and municipalities alike and that it is imperative we provide them with relief now.

In 1997, Governor Pataki, as part of his Executive Budget proposal, introduced the STAR program. While thousands of taxpayers across the state are familiar with the benefits of this program, few may remember that the original STAR proposal included a cap on school district tax levy growth. While this provision was excluded from the enacted STAR program, it was not the first time such a proposal was presented. In 1995, Speaker Sheldon Silver had his own “Real Property Tax Limitation Act,” which passed the Assembly (A.6171, Passed 144-1).

In 1998, taxpayers and school districts first started receiving their STAR benefits without Governor Pataki’s original cap proposal. From 1998 to 2002, the local share of education funding grew moderately on average of 1.6 percent annually.

During this same time period, it appeared that school districts were passing the STAR savings on to the property taxpayer and holding the line on local school spending. However, starting in 2002 to the present, a different trend began to emerge. From 2002-2006, local spending grew on average by 9.8 percent annually, while state aid to schools increased by even greater margins – more than $8.86 billion or 81 percent. This inflated local growth has essentially stifled the impact of STAR for homeowners and is one of the main contributors to higher property tax bills.

The Governor was right when he suggested in his State of the State Address what good is a rebate on Monday when it is taken away with a tax increase on Tuesday. Our Conference believes that had a cap been included with the STAR program, this exorbitant increase in local spending would have been mitigated.

The original STAR tax levy limitation was primarily modeled after a 1980s law known as “Proposition 2 ½” which drastically lowered property taxes in Massachusetts without endangering school performance. Massachusetts once had the highest property taxes nationwide and, as a result of “Proposition 2 ½,” is now ranked 28th in overall taxes. Although critics of property tax caps claim student success will be negatively impacted, Proposition 2 ½ proved otherwise.

In 2004-05, Massachusetts ranked fifth in per pupil spending behind New York (#1), New Jersey (#2), Vermont (#3) and Connecticut (#4) yet, according to Morgan Quinto’s annual 2006-07 “Smartest State Award Publication,” Massachusetts ranks “Second Smartest” nationwide and New Jersey ranks “Fourth Smartest.” This ranking is based on 21 factors including: graduation rates, 4th and 8th grade testing proficiencies, average teacher salary and average class size, etc.

In stark contrast, New York is home to one of the heaviest tax burdens in the nation and spends more per pupil than any other state; however, it ranks “16th Smartest.” If the critics were right that more dollars spent equals higher student success, then New York would have the smartest kids on the planet. Even the state of Montana, which spends considerably less per pupil than New York, ranks as the “Seventh Smartest” state – nine spots better than New York. Taxpayers, school districts and, above all, students should be getting more “bang for their buck.”

In 2007, after studying Massachusetts’ “Proposition 2 ½,” as well as other state caps, the Assembly Republican Conference introduced the “New York State Taxpayer Protection Act” (A.8775-A) in an effort to address the property tax crisis our constituents face. This plan includes a cap on property taxes by limiting to 4 percent or the rate of inflation, the amount a school district can hike tax levies.

Voters have the ability to override this limitation by a two-thirds majority vote. If a school district is experiencing enrollment growth, the tax limit may be increased in proportion to the increased enrollment. It is the intent of this legislation to provide annual state aid increases to school districts within the Foundation Aid category at a rate not less than the rate of inflation. The State Constitution guarantees a “sound, basic education” and therefore the state should ensure that districts have the appropriate funds to operate on a daily basis.

Our plan also reduces property taxes by relieving school districts and localities of unfunded mandates by requiring any state mandate that costs more than $10,000 annually for a local municipality (or $1 million statewide) to be funded by the state. It consolidates school district paperwork by giving the Commissioner of Education the power and responsibility to merge some of the 125 mandated school reporting requirements and directs the state to take over the school district cost of 4th and 8th grade testing.

The plan also provides relief to counties by gradually taking over the cost of Medicaid Optional Services in five years and enables local governments, through software grants, to combat Medicaid fraud.

Finally, our plan promotes local government efficiency through consolidation – such as the potential sharing of equipment and other resources – and encourages local option insurance pooling.

When fully implemented, this plan will save property taxpayers and school districts approximately $16 billion over five years.

This Assembly Republican plan strikes the necessary balance between providing tax relief through a cap, while still addressing other overarching policy issues that impact property taxes and school district spending. Through the “New York State Property Taxpayers Protection Act,” our Conference recognizes the need to provide mandate relief to schools while controlling spending, without jeopardizing school performance.

Since its introduction, the “New York State Property Taxpayers Protection Act” has received widespread support. To date, 39 municipalities across the state have joined our Conference and passed their own resolutions calling on the State Legislature to adopt the plan. In fact, a 2007 Citizens Budget Commission report stated, “due to the recent increase in education aid, the most constructive way to envision a property tax cap in New York is at the school district level.”

New York must join the 14 other states - Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota and West Virginia - which have already successfully capped school property taxes. Anything less than a property tax cap is a half-hearted attempt that will only serve to slow, not stop, the hemorrhaging of our people, jobs and tax base. In fact, had this property tax cap been in place since 2006, New Yorkers would have realized a savings of more than $2.8 billion over two years. That’s serious tax relief that homeowners desperately need.

The Assembly Republican “New York State Property Taxpayers Protection Act” is a well-rounded plan that introduces some new and innovative ideas for true property tax reform. We encourage the Governor, our Legislative colleagues and this Commission to examine our proposal. Within our own Conference, there is much honest debate as to the best path to follow, but there is universal agreement that change must happen now. Our goal is to stop the exodus of people and jobs by reducing New York’s property tax burden through genuine reform. There is no question that New York has an addiction to spending and aggressive measures need to be taken now to lessen government’s dependency on the taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars.

If we don’t, young people will continue to leave the state, seniors will continue to have no option but to sell their homes, and businesses will continue to move jobs and resources out of New York.

We cannot delay. As the seconds tick away, so does the American dream. I must reiterate we are in a property tax crisis in New York. Organization after organization – from the Public Policy Institute, to the Empire Center, to the Citizens Budget Commission – agree that property taxes in our state have spiraled out of control and, if left unchecked, will continue to contribute to New York’s economic decline.

The time for action is now. I urge the Commission to research the issue and develop recommendations expeditiously as the taxpayers can no longer wait.

On behalf of the Assembly Republican Conference, we would like to thank Chairman Tom Suozzi and all the members of this Commission for allowing us to address you today and submit this testimony into the record. My Conference remains committed to bringing property tax relief to New Yorkers this year and we look forward to working with our colleagues in the Legislature, the Governor and this Commission in order to do so. Thank you.

Assembly Republican Leader James Tedisco
110th Assembly District, Schenectady & Saratoga Counties

Assemblywoman Nancy Calhoun
96th Assembly District, Orange & Rockland Counties

Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick
7th Assembly District, Suffolk County


RELATED SOURCES:

2006-07 Smartest State Award, Morgan Quinto Press (October 2006). http://www.morganquitno.com/edrank.htm.

Average scale scores in Reading and Mathematics, Grade 4 public schools, 2003, psk12.com. http://www.psk12.com/rating/USthreeRsphp/STATE_US_level_Elementary_CountyID_0.html.

Average scale scores in Reading and Mathematics, Grade 8 public schools, 2003, psk12.com. http://www.psk12.com/rating/USthreeRsphp/STATE_US_level_Middle_CountyID_0.html.

Empire Center
http://www.empirecenter.org

Financial Report on School Districts, Office of New York State Comptroller (November 2007).
http://www.osc.state.ny.us.

Local Taxes in New York State: Easing the Burden, Citizens Budget Commission (December 2007). http://www.cbcny.org/CBC%20%20Local%20Taxes%20in%20NY%20%20FINAL1.pdf.

Property Taxes on Owner Occupied Housing by County, 2006, Tax Foundation (September 2007). http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxdata/show/1888.html.

Property Taxes on Owner Occupied Housing by State, 2006, Tax Foundation (September 2007). http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxdata/show/1913.html.

Public Education Finances, 2005, U.S. Census Bureau (April 2007). http://ftp2.census.gov/govs/school/05f33pub.pdf.

State and Local Tax Burdens Compared to Other U.S. States, 1970-2007, Tax Foundation (April 2007). http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxdata/show/336.html.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Belt Tightening is Welcome, Tax Increases are Not

Media reports indicate that Governor Spitzer will be calling for further belt tightening in the state budget. While this is welcome news and something I strongly support, I am concerned that the spending reductions reportedly would be coupled with $75 million in new taxes. I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to speak out against any effort to raise taxes on our state’s residents and businesses whether it be in the form of fees, surcharges, loophole closures, or any other euphemism for a tax increase. Reducing state spending while simultaneously raising taxes is like going on a diet by eating more Twinkies. It just doesn’t make sense.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Times Union Notes My Blog

Today's Times Union Inside Politics column noted my Super Bowl prediction.

Here's the excerpt:
"Pardon the interruption

And finally, credit where credit is due.

Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco is never one to shy from a camera or shrink from a bold prediction. So it wasn't shocking when the Schenectady Republican took to his blog, Tedisco's Take, and -- between panning the Thruway Authority's proposed toll hike and applauding efforts to strengthen parole laws -- made his Super Bowl predictions.

"They've got a greater leader now who has matured in Eli Manning. He's not only throwing the passes, he's making them. But he's not making the mistakes he's made in the past," Tedisco said of the Giants' young quarterback in a Youtube.com video posted to his blog on Jan. 30.

"The Giants by 3." As we all now know, the final score: Giants 17, Patriots 14.

Now, if Tedisco could just lure Big Blue to train at Schenectady County Community College instead of the University at Albany."
Hmmm....the Giants training camp at SCCC. Not a bad idea. Maybe they can share space with my alma mater, Union College!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Tedisco in 60: Protecting Children from Sex Predators

Today, I spotlight legislation that will keep Level 2 and 3 sex predators away from schools by having them vote via absentee ballot.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

No More “Get Out of Jail Free” Cards


I commend Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno and Senate Republicans for legislation they announced today which will strengthen the State’s parole laws to help restrict the release of potentially dangerous felons. This legislation is in response to the release of A-1 violent felons at an alarming rate since Governor Spitzer took office. I have sponsored similar legislation that would ensure fairness in the system while keeping vicious killers where they belong – behind bars.


Part of the administration’s argument for its actions is the recidivism rate among murderers is very low. Which means a killer’s likelihood to commit another crime has gone down. But that’s because fewer murderers were being released during the Pataki administration.


The last thing the state should be doing is giving “get out of jail free” cards to heinous killers and other violent felons. You don’t make nice with killers; you lock them up and throw away the key.

Monday, February 4, 2008

As I Predicted, Giants Win Super Bowl By 3


Congratulations to the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants! As I predicted here on my blog last week, the Giants won their 11th road game by three points. This is a great victory for our home town team and a great victory for New Yorkers.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

My Super Bowl XLII Predictions

Eli Manning is coming into his own and has made very few mistakes in the playoffs. The New York Giants have shown they can compete against the New England Patriots and almost defeated them. The Giants are ready to upset the Patriots in a big win by 3 points on Super Bowl Day. It’s destined to be! It’s going to be a victory for the New York Giants!

We Don't Need a Taj Mahal on the Thruway

There's so much to say this week, that I'm doing a double-shot of "Tedisco in 60." This episode is on the need to cut Thruway tolls, just as the Comptroller suggests.

Truth in Advertising???


The Governor is in Dutchess County today on a so-called “Bringing the Budget Home'' tour. Considering Spitzer’s proposed budget contains $2 billion in tax and fee increases that will cost the average family $473.00, perhaps the Governor should have some truth in advertising and be promoting this as the "Causing You to Sell Your Home Tour" or "Squeezing the New York Middle Class Homeowner Tour.”

By the way, the cartoon above is from http://www.hightaxnewyork.com/.

Monday, January 28, 2008

My Appearance on WGY

I was on WGY today and spoke with Al Roney to discuss the proposed Thruway toll hike. Please click here:

http://a1135.g.akamai.net/f/1135/18227/1h/cchannel.download.akamai.com/18227/podcast/ALBANY-NY/WGY-AM/1-28TEDISCO.mp3?CPROG=PCAST&MARKET=ALBANY-NY&NG_FORMAT=newstalk&SITE_ID=1155&STATION_ID=WGY-AM&PCAST_AUTHOR=WGY&PCAST_CAT=news&PCAST_TITLE=Don_Weeks_On-Demand.

Governor Rejects Toll Increases


I am happy to see that today the Governor joined me and my Assembly Republican colleagues in rejecting any proposed Thruway toll increases. New Yorkers can’t continue to be forced to pay for higher tolls, higher gas prices and higher property taxes. It’s obvious that this should be the end of the road for this costly toll hike.

Comptroller’s Audit Echoes My Calls for Thruway Authority To Stop Toll Hike

The New York State comptroller’s audit of the Thruway Authority revealed precisely what I have been saying since last fall – there is no justification for an increase in Thruway tolls. The comptroller is urging the agency to call off the increase. He says the Thruway is taking the easy way out and he'd like to see the agency implement more cost cutting programs.

New Yorkers are already paying some of the highest property taxes in the nation. They cannot afford the Thruway Authority’s proposed 10 percent toll hike on top of its earlier toll increase that just went into effect a few weeks ago.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Another Spitzer Plan Catering to Illegals

In his 2008-09 Executive Budget, Governor Spitzer has proposed a tax on illegal drug sales. His legislation would require tax stamps to be placed on illegal drug packages, much like those currently affixed to cigarette packages.

The difference: cigarettes are legal. What kind of mixed message is the Governor sending with this proposal? Does he expect law-breaking drug dealers to obey this provision? My question to Mr. Spitzer is, “what’s next, taxing prostitution?

According to the New York Post’s Ken Lovett, “Experience in other states shows that stamp collectors, not drug dealers, are the ones purchasing the tax stamps”.

The governor says it's not a step toward legalizing illicit drugs. But if he wants to make the bad guys pay more he should increase the fines they pay -- not legitimize their illegal activity by creating a new state tax office.

Please support my Conference’s efforts to prevent this ridiculous measure from becoming law. It is wrong for New York State.

A Bad Time For A Pay Raise

In recent weeks, Governor Eliot Spitzer and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver have expressed willingness to consider pay raises for all State Legislators this year. At a time when New York has a budget deficit of $4 billion, this issue should not be a priority.

In fact, many New Yorkers are currently struggling to make ends meet. Therefore, it is inappropriate for us, as elected representatives, to unilaterally grant ourselves a $20,000 per year salary increase. Our salaries are already the third-highest in the nation, and remember, this is part-time employment.

This is certainly not the way to gain public trust. An increase of this size would cost taxpayers more than $4 million per year. Is this any way to repay the men and women who depend upon us to be their voice in state government?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tedisco in 60: Budget Edition

Here's the second episode of my 60-second-long video series, Tedisco in 60.

Your Family Owes NYS $473

At least if Governor Spitzer gets his way with the state budget. Among the new taxes are a $172 HMO tax, $100 community college tuition increase, $40 DMV fee, and $11.59 gas tax hike. So much for “no new taxes.”

Here’s a breakdown of the tax increases:

Executive Budget – Cost to Average Family

Tuition
Community College tuition - $50 X 2 kids = $100
(Would raise average CC tuition to $3,276)

DMV
Endorsement Fee for WHTI compliant drivers license –
$20 X 2 adults: $40

Insurance
Increased Motor Vehicle Insurance fee $15: $30

Mortgage Recording Fee
County optional increase (includes NYC): $20
Per page filing fee increase $2 per page: $20

Gas Tax Merger
Tax increase per Family (2009-10): $11.59

Health Costs
Health Maintenance Organization tax
(change from Business Corporation Tax to Insurance Corporation
Franchise Tax): $172

Groceries
Bottle Bill fee per family: $14

Middle Class Star Rebate
No increase for Basic STAR Recipients: $65
________

TOTAL COST PER FAMILY $473.00

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Gov's Budget Comes With Hefty Price Tag

I have real concerns that Governor Eliot Spitzer’s proposed 2008-09 executive budget would make it harder for New York’s overtaxed middle class families struggling to get by in the wake of a national economic recession. The Governor’s proposed budget contains nearly $2 billion in taxes and fees, would impose 44 new fees and fee increases, and cost every New York family more than $400 annually. New York’s middle class families already struggling with a recession simply cannot afford these additional fiscal burdens. Most concerning, the Governor’s budget fails to fully honor a promise made last year to deliver real property tax relief in the form of direct rebates to overtaxed middle class homeowners. By turning its back on New York’s middle class taxpayers, the Governor’s budget would make our state a more expensive place to live, work and raise a family.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

“We Will Get A Property Tax Cap”

That’s what Governor Spitzer said this morning on the Don Weeks show on WGY. I am delighted that the Governor has come out to strongly embrace the property tax cap, which will help ease the burden on our overtaxed homeowners and businesses and go a long way to making our state economically competitive again. Let’s get this done by April 1st before taxpayers decide on their local school district budget and possibly face even higher property taxes as a result.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tedisco in 60: Episode 1

This is the first in what will be a regular series of 60-second-long (or thereabouts) video podcasts on issues of concern to New Yorkers.

Dramatic Policy Overhaul Needed to Renew Upstate

At times, I’ve been one of this Governor’s toughest critics – but not today. I believe Governor Spitzer deserves credit for recognizing the economic crisis that is gripping Upstate. His decision to give a “State of Upstate Address” put his bully pulpit to good use in helping draw attention to Upstate’s hurting economy.

It’s not hyperbole to say that the Upstate economy is on life support – some small businesses are literally just hanging on, their pain compounded by the fact that we are either close to, or possibly already in, the grips of a national economic recession.

The Governor outlined several steps – including using our tremendous SUNY research facilities as “incubators” for businesses to tap our state’s best and brightest minds, improving Upstate’s roads and other critical infrastructure and utilizing the State Police to help Upstate cities control violent crime – that we should seriously consider.

One area where I diverge from the Governor’s address is seemingly too much of a reliance on taxpayer dollars to fund many of the initiatives he outlined. I am concerned – and I’m not alone – in wondering how our state could afford some of his proposals in light of the nearly $51 billion in debt that New York is carrying – and that is a conservative estimate.

I think it’s fair to say that parts of Upstate have been hit by a ‘perfect storm’ of high taxes, energy costs and job loss. In response to this perfect storm that has swamped Upstate, we should take dramatic, bold steps as timidity is not a cure for the chronic ailments afflicting Upstate. We can do this by enacting a property tax cap and cutting taxes on manufacturers and small businesses which drive Upstate’s economy.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Opening Day Remarks Video

As promised, here's a video of my opening remarks for the 2008 Session.

Countdown: Property Tax Cap


Cue the ticking clock sound from the television show “24”, as today, we unveiled the “Property Tax Cap Countdown Clock” that’s counting down until Tuesday, April 1, 2008, which is New York’s fiscal deadline and when we are calling for the cap to be enacted.

The clock will remain outside my office at the State Capitol for public viewing before homeowners vote on their school budgets. It is a tangible, daily reminder that excessive property taxes are the number one issue facing New Yorkers who are caught in a “middle class squeeze” of high taxes, tolls, fuel costs and just about everything else.

The Governor should be using his bully pulpit to call for quick passage of a property tax cap, which has been enacted in 14 other states including Massachusetts and California. In an economy that may be headed toward – or is in the beginning of – a possible recession, the swift enactment of a property tax cap becomes even more urgent.

Let’s avoid a session-ending cliffhanger for millions of New York homeowners and pass a property tax cap soon to provide immediate relief.

Opening Day Remarks

I gave the following remarks this afternoon for the opening of the 2008 Assembly Session. Video will be posted soon.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Mr. Speaker… Majority Leader Canestrari… my fellow colleagues… welcome back. It’s truly good to see you, one and all…

Mr. Speaker and my colleagues, as we begin this, the 231st session of our state legislature, I think it essential that we ask ourselves an important question…

What kind of a session do we want this to be remembered as?…

Will it be remembered as a session of partisan acrimony and personal mistrust?...

Of political gridlock and legislative stalemate?...

Or, where we can, when we can, however we can, will we find that all often-illusive common ground?…

And forge in the fires of discussion, deliberation and debate, a consensus, a true consensus, on issues that 18-and-a-half million New Yorkers we collectively represent want to see – and deserve – progress on…

Bread-and-butter, kitchen-table issues addressing the “middle class squeeze” gripping far too many families…

Families from Brooklyn, to Binghamton, to Buffalo – and all points in between…

Who are working longer… and harder… for less…

Families that are struggling – literally, struggling – just to keep their heads above the rising tide of a dollar that, while harder to get, seems to buy less than ever…

Families feeling a crushing, exhausting “middle class squeeze” of skyrocketing property taxes, soaring gas prices and rising Thruway tolls…

Families that stay up well into the late night, when the kids are asleep, going over their budget, figuring out what they can afford, what they’ll have to forgo and how they will explain it to their children…

Families that save every penny, stretch every dollar, because they’re worried about being laid off…

Worried about being downsized, worried about providing their children more opportunities and a better life than they themselves had…

The father who puts in endless double shifts and collapses on the family couch, too tired from work to play with his children…

Or the single mom, who works all day, goes to night school, struggles against the odds and tries to spend quality time with her child…

Mr. Speaker and my colleagues, these are the families – the families that work hard, raise their children and play by the rules – that elected us to come here…

To have the privilege – and that’s what this is: a privilege – of serving in the “people’s house”…

And enact an agenda that advances their needs, not those of any political party…

Or favored constituency, or personal whim…

How?...

With a bi-partisan, common sense agenda that deals with that middle class squeeze I described, and deals with it directly and decisively…

By the timely enactment of a property tax cap, that provides real relief…

For the overtaxed, overregulated, overburdened families, senior citizens, farmers and small businesses who have long since passed their breaking point…

By renewing our Upstate economy…

Through cutting job-killing bureaucratic red tape, supporting manufacturing and investing in our emerging high-tech industries that hold a promise of real jobs, better wages and the opportunity for families to stay together, right here, in New York…

By ensuring the safety and security of all New Yorkers by passing the Chronic Criminal Act, expanding our state’s DNA Database and identifying and stopping sexual predators – the worst of the worst – before they strike and claim yet another innocent life…

Mr. Speaker, in addition to these priorities, this agenda aimed at alleviating the “middle class squeeze” so many of our mutual constituents now face, I know, we all know, there are a whole host of other public policy issues we need to address…

From improving education, to making health care more affordable, to continuing to reform government so it is the taxpayer’s servant, not its master…

But, if politics is the art of making the impossible, possible, then responsible governance is about setting priorities – and sticking to them…

I believe… our Assembly Republican Conference believes… the New Yorkers who pay the taxes and the bills for what we pass in this Chamber believe… that we must prioritize…

For even though the word “government” may mean different things to different people…

The reality is that, given the severity of this “perfect financial storm” that’s already swamping too many of our constituents…

Our State government cannot afford to do everything for everyone…

And it’s incumbent upon each of us, as legislators, holding a sacred public trust, to differentiate between the needs of the people we serve… and the wants of the elected officials, who are fortunate to serve them…

That’s the hallmark of a representative democracy such as ours – for us to meet, to discuss, to deliberate, to debate these issues…

With civility, honesty, respect and open minds…

And then join together in mutual accord, to break through barriers to progress, to persuade the agents of delay and help make real change a reality…

If there was an actual job description for being a Member of the Assembly that would likely be it… to
help make New York’s full potential a reality…

To serve our fellow New Yorker…

To improve the quality of life for every man, woman and child of this great state…

Mr. Speaker and my colleagues, going forward, this session…

Let us pledge to cooperate without compromising our principles and beliefs…

Let us commit ourselves to a more perfect union…

Let us reach agreement that not only respects majority rule, but protects minority rights…

Let us, in the words of one of our nation’s greatest Presidents, President Abraham Lincoln – a true leader who risked his reputation and gave his life – to keep our then fledgling nation from being torn apart by the evils of slavery and civil war…

A Leader who, in speaking to the necessity of embracing fundamental, far-reaching change to overcome real challenges, said the following…

“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew”…

“So we must think and act anew”…

Powerful words from a powerful leader…

In accordance with President Lincoln’s timeless admonition, it is incumbent upon us all to “think and act anew”…

For, if we set down the crucible of partisanship and pick-up our God-given birthright as Americans…

As New Yorkers…

A birthright to dare, to dream, to achieve, to join together in common cause for the greater common good…

Then we will renew New York…

We will master this moment… our moment… New York’s moment…

Mr. Speaker and my colleagues, thank you and may God continue to bless this house, our great state and its citizens.

-END-

Monday, January 14, 2008

Remembering Barbara “Bobbie” Bruno

As many people from across the state will join together today to celebrate the life of the late Bobbie Bruno, I thought it appropriate to take a moment and share some thoughts on this wonderful, lovely woman.

Bobbie was a devoted wife, and loving mother and grandmother who exemplified dignity, decency and grace. She was a dedicated and compassionate volunteer in the community and a caring advocate for the humane treatment of animals.

Bobbie was truly a classy woman who gave Senator Bruno a great deal of strength and support. My heart goes out to Joe and his family and my thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time. Bobbie will forever be etched in the hearts of those who had the honor and pleasure of meeting her and we will always remember her gentleness and warmth.

Friday, January 11, 2008

They Have Farms in New York!!!


Glad to see the Governor finally remembered that agriculture is the state’s top industry. Our farmers play a vital role in New York’s economy and they deserve our help and support.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Did Governing By Vengeance End in Year 1?

There can't be any more of that if we're going to build trust and get things done in Year 2. Another clip from last night's Capital Tonight.