It's Called the "Big Ugly" for a Reason

By Kieran Lalor, on Jun 25, 2015

Statement on the End-of-Session Deal from Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor (R,C,I - East Fishkill)

"Albany is squeezing as many unrelated bad ideas as possible into this last-minute deal. Albany's big deals tend to be bad for taxpayers. Instead of carefully debating the merits of each issue, we get an unwieldy monstrosity that is the product of horse-trading, special-interest pressure and arm-twisting. Hence, the bill is known colloquially as the 'Big Ugly.'"

Message of Necessity
"There is a reason why New York’s constitution delays the vote on legislation for three days after it has been submitted. Legislators, and the public, need the opportunity to review and debate legislation. But, Governor Cuomo and our legislative leaders have abused the message of necessity provision again and again to circumvent the constitution. There is no emergency that requires an immediate, late-night vote a few hours after the bill was made available to lawmakers and the public. The only emergency for Cuomo, new Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Democrat Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is the possibility that the public might get a good look at this bad bill. Even if the bill was the greatest piece of legislation in the history of New York, a no vote is still appropriate because the requisite three-day aging period has been bypassed, preventing legislators from doing their due diligence and getting input from constituents and experts."

Rent control and the SAFE Act
"Rent control has always been a bad policy. It ultimately drives up housing prices for the non-rent-controlled housing in New York City. But, if New York City politicians insisted on its renewal, there was an opportunity for compromise. Rent control renewal should have been tied to repeal or at least significant overhaul of the SAFE Act. Voters across upstate New York were calling for this compromise. It didn’t happen. So, upstate is left in the cold again, while liberal New York City advances its agenda with no concessions. Senator Flanagan didn't even get income verification requirements for tenants of rent-controlled apartments. Tenants can continue to abuse the system and get a well-below market-rate apartment despite making big salaries because we don't bother to verify their incomes."

Tax Rebate Gimmicks
"Short-term rebates don't stimulate economic growth, permanent tax cuts do. But, Albany is using the short-term rebate gimmick again. Permanent tax cuts generate investment and growth. We’ve tried short-term rebates before and they haven’t kick-started the economy. Taxes are high because our state spends too much. What is being called tax relief in this bill is really a tax shift from one group of New Yorkers to another. Without meaningful spending reductions, tax bills will continue to go up and the rebate will only serve to mildly dull the pain of the next increase."

Tax Cap Weakened and No Mandate Relief
"The 'Big Ugly' weakens the tax cap, a move that is bad for taxpayers. New exemptions to the cap will allow more spending and higher taxes, against the intent of the cap. The tax cap needs to be permanent in order give stability to taxpayers and to at least slow the exodus of New Yorkers leaving the state due to crushing property taxes. Unfunded mandates on school districts and local governments are one of the driving forces behind high property taxes. Yet this bill does nothing to address them."

The Education Investment Tax Credit (EITC)
"The EITC was dropped, again. The alternative $250 million for private schools to reimburse them for state-imposed costs, doesn't achieve the same effect. The EITC would have directly empowered working-class parents with choices in their children's education. The adopted plan doesn't give parents that help. There's no guarantee that schools will pass the savings on to the families that need tuition help."

421-a Tax Abatement
"This is just corporate welfare and it's been at the center of the Silver and Skelos corruption cases. Corporate welfare tends to invite corruption. It’s also profoundly unfair for New Yorkers to subsidize multi-million dollar luxury condos. And the required affordable housing attached to the tax abatement has not made New York City any more affordable. Instead, it’s created perverse incentives for developers that drive away the middle class that doesn’t qualify for affordable housing and can’t come close to affording the luxury homes supported by 421-a. The fact that New York City real estate interests are among the biggest donors to both Republicans and Democrats tells you everything you need to know about how this giveaway continues despite all of the corruption surrounding it." 

Upstate Left Out in the Cold Again
"This deal had plenty for liberal New York City, with rent control and the 421-a extension, but upstate New Yorkers didn’t receive any economic benefits or a compromise on the SAFE Act. Albany is led by New York City and the rest of the state suffers for it."  

Defending the Indefensible
"Shortly after the budget deal on April 1, 2015, we learned that Start-Up NY spent tens of millions of tax dollars to create only 76 jobs. This end-of-session flurry of legislation was a great opportunity to cut our loses, end the program and commit the savings to permanent, across-the-board tax relief. Instead, the Cuomo administration is defending the program's embarrassingly slow start and expensive advertising costs by claiming Start-Up NY is about changing the 'perception' of New York, though Cuomo initially pitched the program as a major job generator. The Cuomo administration claims they are changing the perception of New York, but the reality is still a state weighed down with high taxes and regulations. Start-Up NY doesn't change that reality. So, now we're told that Start-Up NY is about tricking companies into coming to New York and we're spending tens of millions to do it."

Executive Orders
"The governor couldn’t make a deal with the legislature to raise the age of criminal responsibility or on a special prosecutor for police-involved deaths. Now, he’s just going to change the rules by executive fiat. That’s not how our system is supposed to work. Checks and balances and the separation of powers are critical aspects of our system of government and protect our rights. These essential checks on power shouldn't be bypassed when the chief executive can't get his way."

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