Governor aims at nation, penalizes state

If you have read my column, by now you know that am not an admirer of our governor. There is no doubt that he is now positioning himself for a presidential run, something I have mixed emotions about.

If the governor were elected president, New York state would be free of his free-spending ways as governor but the nation would then be in those same hands. Not a pleasant thought. Frankly I don’t see him getting elected but then I remember that the last two presidents were not exactly favorites to begin with so anything could happen.

The governor does what it takes to be elected. He always has. To keep environmentalists in his base happy, he closed coal fired power plants in New York but in the meantime, allowed New York utilities to purchase electricity from coal fired plants in Pennsylvania that spew out pollutants at far higher rates than New York plants ever did. He pulled the wool over his base but kept them happy.

The governor banned fracking in New York even though there have been few if any proven cases of groundwater contamination anywhere. Pennsylvania allowed fracking and became a powerhouse in the production of natural gas. Meanwhile just over the state line in New York’s Southern Tier unemployment remains high. However, his environmental base remains happy and isn’t that more important than unemployment levels in a rural area?

The governor continues to attack the Congressional tax legislation because it limits the deduction for state and local taxes to $10,000 for the one-third of New York State taxpayers who itemize deductions. Unreported is the fact that the majority of New Yorkers who don’t itemize will reap the benefits of a doubled standard deduction.

Frankly the governor’s weeping and gnashing of teeth over deductions is a waste of time as are the half-baked ideas he and his staff are suggesting as ways to beat the limit on deductions. He and they should be seeking ways to cut our state and local taxes beginning by reigning in Medicaid but that would make his base mad.

A rather telling remark by the governor is that a $4.4 billion deficit in his recent budget plan is caused by a weakness in state tax revenue collections. How clueless are you Andrew? That is what happens when high state and local taxes force high earners to move to places like Florida and Texas. Just ask former New Yorkers like Bob Rich and Tom Golisano about that.

The governor’s budget plan projects a slowdown in private job growth from 1.4 percent for 2017 to 1.3 percent for 2018 and laments that “despite the pick-up in both national; and global growth, New York’s private sector labor market continued to decelerate in 2017.” So, governor, did you ever think about which of your policies might be causing our economic “deceleration?”

In order to raise revenue and cut the deficit the governor’s budget proposes the usual new fees taxes and more nitpicking regulations. The first is a tax the governor has lusted after for years, namely a tax on internet transactions giving proof to the claim that New York will tax anything. In addition, the governor proposes a new tax on vaping liquids probably because if vaping causes too many New Yorkers to give up smoking tobacco, which as a reformed smoker I encourage them to do, the state will lose out on the huge taxes levied on actual tobacco products. The governor also proposes that STAR property tax benefits remain at current levels instead of instituting a previously proposed 2 percent increase which shows his “deep” concern for the senior citizens of New York.

Our always creative governor is also thinking about requiring a new prelicensing course with an $8 fee for first time driver’s licenses, removal of incentives for some health care providers to be non-profit, increasing their ability to be taxed, and imposing new inspection fees for privately operated passenger carriers. If only the governor would spend more time figuring ways to cut spending instead of ways to separate New Yorkers from their hard-earned money, we would all be better off.

Tacked onto the budget are several policy related issues including a study of the legalization of marijuana. Last year the governor described marijuana as a “dangerous gateway drug” but this year he likely sees it as a source of tax revenue and will study its legalization.

Finally, the governor, following in his father’s convoluted and wrongheaded stand on abortion proposes establishing Roe V. Wade as state policy reinforcing the right to abortion. This will change little except that it will play well with his “prochoice” base while further devaluing human life from birth until death.

That’s my take on what the governor is up to as we begin a new year.

Thomas Kirkpatrick Sr. is a Silver Creek resident. Send comments to editorial@observertoday.com

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