END OF SESSION LEAVES MANY PRIORITIES UNRESOLVED

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) pointed out many unresolved priorities at the end of the 2014 Legislative Session. Hawley singled out the lack of significant tax relief for middle-class families as the biggest missed opportunity of the year. In addition, Hawley noted the lack of action on repealing the SAFE Act and recommended that the legislative session every year be shortened by at least two months.

            “The families of Western New York deserve better than what the downstate, New York City politicians have given them. These families desperately need property tax relief, and the only way to accomplish that is through significant mandate relief,” said Hawley. “The vast majority of local spending is driven by state mandates, the cost of which is passed on to taxpayers. By not addressing these mandates, New York City’s special interests have protected the unsustainable status quo.”

            The two largest unfunded mandates imposed by the state on municipalities are Medicaid and state pensions. Others include public assistance programs, various administrative reporting requirements, and education spending. These mandates eat up as much as 90 percent of a locality’s budget, driving the vast majority of its spending. Localities will be free to lower property taxes only when the state rolls back its oppressive mandate regime.

            “I also want to reaffirm my commitment to restoring Second Amendment rights by repealing the SAFE Act. It is disappointing that the legislature refused to revisit the law, even though its flaws have become evident. It is an issue that needs to be stridently pushed in the courts or at the ballot box,” said Hawley.

            Hawley also suggested a reduction in the number of days spent in session every year. Each year, the state spends $20.8 million per month holding session. Significant savings could be seen by shortening the amount of time in session and curbing the per diem abuse that has been the center of several scandals in Albany. This is one way to start chipping at the leviathan state government, reduce spending, and keep money in the hands of taxpayers.

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