New York Lawmakers Propose Spending Limits

Published August 1, 2006

New York has long been known as one of the most heavily taxed states in the nation. Now two Republican lawmakers hope to bring relief to the state’s beleaguered taxpayers.

During the spring legislative session Assemblyman Jeff Brown (R-Manlius) introduced the Taxpayer Relief Act, a constitutional amendment to limit state spending to the previous year’s expenditures plus inflation and percentage growth in enrollment in entitlement programs.

State Sen. Ray Meier (R-Western) has introduced similar legislation in the Senate. His bill would limit Albany’s annual spending increases to inflation plus population increases over the preceding year.

Reaching ‘Breaking Point’

“Taxpayers here have reached the breaking point,” said Brown, who noted the Tax Foundation’s annual State Business Tax Climate Index earlier this year ranked New York as having the nation’s worst tax climate. “We can’t cut taxes unless we control the spending side. I’m one of the few assembly members with a serious proposal to do that.”

Brown is running for the state senate this year against incumbent state Sen. David Valesky (D-Oneida). Meier is running against Democrat Michael Arcuri, Oneida County’s district attorney, for an open U.S. Congress seat.

Hoping for Movement

Brown said neither bill has gone anywhere, but that could change later this year. He said he and Meier will make constitutional restraints on spending important pieces of their campaigns. There is also a chance state lawmakers could come back into session later in the year and address spending restraint legislation.

“You never know,” Brown said. “The governor can call a special session or can go back in to deal with the budget. We have outstanding budget vetoes that have not been addressed.

“Two years ago the whole election was about reform. We came into session after the election, and there was some movement on opening the budget process,” Brown said. “I am hopeful that will repeat itself with tax relief and spending limitations this year.”

Steve Stanek ([email protected]) is managing editor of Budget & Tax News.