Assemblyman Andy Goodell is backing several specific legislative proposals to cut taxes, reduce health care costs, and reduce regulatory burdens in an effort to New York state more business competitive, strengthen the local economy and help create middle class jobs.
Goodell has been endorsed by the independent nonpartisan National Federation of Independent Business, the Associated Builders and Contractors, and Unshackle Upstate. He has also received positive ratings from the New York State Business Council, and was named last year to the Farm Bureau Circle of Friends.
"Chautauqua County has tremendous assets, a skilled work force, and a dedicated economic development team," Goodell said. "We need to build on those advantages by reducing on the financial, legal, and regulatory burdens facing local small business owners and others in New York state."
Tax Cuts. According to the independent nonpartisan Tax Foundation, New York state has the highest combined state and local taxes in the nation. The recent middle class tax rate cut, property tax cap, and cut in overall state spending are steps in the right direction, but much more needs to be done.
Goodell also voted for comprehensive small business tax relief, lower corporate taxes for qualified manufacturers, a small business electric tax credit, a sales tax exemption for the purchase of certain equipment, a tax credit for college-to-work programs, and the elimination of the unemployment tax surcharge.
"I will continue to fight in Albany to reduce these and other taxes," Goodell said.
Spending Cuts. To pay for tax cuts, Goodell voted against the 10 percent increase in welfare cash benefits and voted to cut the costs of the welfare and Medicaid programs. Goodell also introduced legislation to bring Medicaid benefits in line with private health insurance programs so that those on welfare do not receive better coverage than the taxpayers who are footing the bill. He also introduced legislation to tighten welfare eligibility so that those who own a second vacation house cannot qualify for welfare. And he proposed an expansion of the youth employment program to help break the welfare cycle.
Goodell cosponsored a bipartisan bill in the Assembly to ban the use of welfare benefit cards at casinos, liquor stores, or "adult entertainment" stores.
"Welfare benefits were not intended to fund gambling or drinking, but to meet essential expenses," Goodell said. "Senator Young was able to get this bill through the Senate this year, and I am confident that it will pass the Assembly next year."
Reducing Health Care Costs. Goodell is cosponsoring bipartisan legislation to reduce the cost of health care by allowing small businesses to offer a solid basic health insurance program without complying with all the existing state mandates.
The state requires every insurance policy to cover at least 58 mandated services, including everything from abortion to autism. Goodell said while such coverage levels are great for those who can afford them, many individuals and businesses simply cannot afford these plans. As a result, many New York residents either have a Cadillac plan, high deductibles, or no coverage at all.
"Allowing individuals and small businesses a much wider range of options enables them to tailor their health care plans to their individual needs and budgets. In addition to saving a tremendous amount of money, more people will be able to afford more insurance coverage. It is a win-win situation," Goodell said.
Goodell has also introduced legislation to eliminate the hidden taxes, fees, and assess-ments on health care that drive up its costs.
"Many people do not realize that state taxes are a major factor in the high cost of health insurance," Goodell said. "For example, hospital patients are charged a 9.63 percent sales tax on their hospital bill. That is a 'sick tax' because it applies only to those who are so sick that they need to go to the hospital."
There is also a flat tax on health insurance policies, a gross receipt tax on insurance policies (ultimately paid by the consumer) and other taxes. These taxes raise costs by about $4.32 Billion a year, a huge burden for those who need health care.
"Eliminating these taxes will result is a substantial savings to everyone," noted Goodell.
Regulatory Relief. New York has a reputation for having one of the worst regulatory environments in the nation. To address that problem, Goodell cosponsored a bipartisan bill that requires state agencies to give small businesses an opportunity to correct any regulatory issues without incurring any fine.
"Small business owners are the backbone of our community," Goodell said. "The last thing we want to do is treat them like criminals."
Goodell is also targeting several other regulatory issues, such as the certificate of need process for hospitals, the removal of nonfriable asbestos, burdensome annual employer wage reporting requirements, and several other issues.
Unemployment Reform. Goodell introduced legislation to reduce the cost of unemployment insurance while helping unemployed workers. Under current law, a person on unemployment loses their entire daily benefit if they accept any part-time employment for that day. Goodell's legislation would reduce the unemployment benefit by one-half of the amount earned in part-time work. "This is a win-win situation, since a person accepting part-time work will increase their income while the cost of program goes down," said Goodell. "This also encourages people to get back into the work force as quickly as possible."
Helping Local Businesses. Using his business, economic, and legal background, Goodell has been a strong advocate for local businesses. For example, Goodell is working closely with Senator Young, Dunkirk Mayor Dolce, and others to support the $700 Million NRG proposal to convert the Dunkirk power plant from coal to high efficiency natural gas. He has also helped several local businesses with regulatory or licensing issues.
Opposing Tax Increases. Goodell strongly opposes legislation that would increase taxes and regulations and make New York less business competitive. "Unlike my opponent, I oppose increasing taxes by billions of dollars to fund the wholesale government takeover of health care. I also oppose spending millions of taxpayer dollars to fund political campaigns. And I oppose creating an intrusive government bureaucracy to regulate private sector wage rates to require equal pay for entirely different jobs without regard to market rates," said Goodell. "We need to aggressively cut taxes and spending and reduce government red tape, not support massive tax increases for a dramatic expansion of government. As long as I am in the Assembly, I will do everything in my power to put Chautauqua County residents first by improving our economy and helping to create more middle class jobs."