Community Members Question Executive Budget Details
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has dispatched members of his cabinet to communities across the state to review his executive budget. During the presentation Thursday in Plattsburgh, local officials and business owners peppered the state representative with questions.
Deputy Secretary of State for Local Governments Dede Scozzafava met with a roomful of individuals who listened intently as she used a power-point presentation to review the governor’s proposed budget: “...instead of going up every year, it’s coming down. Taxes. Down.”
When she finished, there were numerous questions and concerns about the fiscal plan.
“Is there any consideration about say increasing New York State income tax to grant relief to property tax? The reason I say that property tax is so terribly inefficient. Income tax is very efficient.”
Dede Scozzafava : “We can take that back for consideration. But I believe this governor believes that New York State has to have a competitive economic environment and that means lower taxes on both the income tax rate and the property tax rate.”
“I worry about the property tax freeze and its impact on schools.”
Dede Scozzafava : “There’s many different things that are being looked at. But what it takes is state Ed, the governor’s office, and the Legislature, and the Board of Regents talking about all these issues to try to come up with a solution. And that’s what they’re looking to do by the end of this session.”
Some questions were beyond Scozzafava’s expertise.
“When you were talking in the health care area about creating a statewide electronic medical record format, are people integrating that, or trying to integrate that, with other agencies that do health care? Such as the VA. We have other federal health care groups, and their formats might be different.”
Dede Scozzafava: “I would think given the level of specificity that they’ve been reviewing that it will be comprehensive. But I can’t answer that for sure, but we’ll take a look at it.”
Occasionally, Deputy Secretary Scozzafava would consult with the New York State Department of Labor’s North Country Regional Representative June O’Neill.
“I’m President of the Plattsburgh-Saranac Lake Building Trades. It’s nice to see all these construction projects coming up from Albany with hundreds of millions being sent up here. But we need some local hire guarantees, some project labor agreement wording or apprenticeship language.”
Dede Scozzafava : “June, did you want to?”
June O’Neill: “One of the concerns is that if people say they’re going to put an apprenticeship program together, it’s not a real one, they’re just doing it to get in on the work and there are complications about the local hire requirements. So it hasn’t been been blown off.”
“Most of the tax relief for businesses is geared towards what we call C corporations at the corporate level. Is there any thought of expanding that to cover limited liability companies and S corporations where they’re taxed at the individual level?”
June O’Neill: “The way that it’s structured it only covers, I think they’re called 9A corporations, which are the ones who pay the corporate tax through the corporate tax. The LLC’s and the sub-fives, or whatever that category is, pay their corporate tax through their income, my understanding is that the benefit to those corporations is through the real property tax credit, the 20% credit.”
Joint legislative hearings on the governor’s budget by the Senate Finance Committee and Assembly Ways and Means Committee will begin on Monday and continue through February 11.