Assembly candidate Andy Goodell recently spoke before a joint meeting of the Chautauqua County Supervisors Association and Conference of Mayors about the critical need for state government to be a partner with local governments in cutting taxes and promoting economic development.
"Our state assemblyman should be an advocate for local governments, not an adversary," said Goodell. "Rather than to cater to Albany special interests, do nothing to cut the cost of state-mandated programs, then criticize local governments for the resulting tax increases, our assemblyman should be doing everything in his power to help local taxpayers."
Goodell noted several examples of how state government is driving up the cost of local government, including huge increases in the cost of retirement premiums, a reduction in local aid, and expensive mandates and regulations. Indeed, the cost of state-mandates accounts for the vast majority of the projected county budget shortfall.
State Assembly candidate Andrew Goodell, left, spoke to the county supervisors and mayors recently. He is shown with, from left, Katherine Tampio, Hanover supervisor and president of the Chautauqua County Supervisors Association; Anthony Caprino, Lakewood mayor and president of the Chautauqua County Conference of Mayors; and Kurt Lindstrom, mayor of Silver Creek and treasurer of the Conference of Mayors.
"In addition to imposing some of the highest taxes in the nation, the state Assembly has been extraordinarily devious in imposing hidden taxes and fees that drive up costs for everyone, including local governments" said Goodell. Last year, for example, the state Assembly imposed an additional $433 million tax on health insurance premiums, driving up the cost of health insurance. Sen. Catharine Young voted against the increase, but was out-voted by the Democrat senators.
"It was an incredible abuse of the state taxing power to tax health insurance premiums at a time when so many people and employers are struggling to pay for health insurance," said Goodell. "Most people blamed the insurance companies, doctors, or hospitals, without realizing that the State Assembly itself was secretly increasing the cost of health insurance with these hidden fees and assessments."
He said the most important role for state government, however, is to help make New York State more business competitive so that new companies can afford to locate and expand in Chautauqua County. As the result of years of abuse by the state Assembly, New York is now ranked by the Tax Foundation in Washington, D.C. as having the worst business environment in the nation, he said.
Goodell noted that the state Assembly leadership could learn valuable lessons from local government leaders, who adopt balanced budgets on time based on open budget deliberations. Local leaders do not hide off-budget borrowing, shift costs to other governments, or adopt new and burdensome taxes and regulations.
Goodell concluded by emphasizing the need for mutual respect between local elected officials and state government.
"Local officials are the closest to the people. They have the best understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing the local community. State government should help our local governments cut costs, not impose new costs on the backs of local taxpayers," he said.