Spending Watch


Bulletin #17: June 30, 1999
What do a ton-mileage tax cut, EITC have in common?

The must-do agenda for the new state budget includes the next major round of tax cuts. While little has been heard on the subject lately, Governor Pataki and Senator Bruno both have wide-ranging proposals on the table.

The items of greatest importance to the business community include reducing energy and telecommunications taxes, bringing the bank and insurance tax rates down to parity with the general corporate tax rate, and cutting the alternative minimum tax to strengthen our manufacturing and securities sectors. Other priorities include reducing and eliminating the ton-mileage tax, and expanding the earned income tax credit.

What do these apparently unrelated items have in common? They're all good for New York - good for our people, good for business, good for our long-term economic strength. Among other things, that means these proposals are good for the neediest New Yorkers.

Everyone agrees that New York's taxes are still too high

A few years ago in Albany, those who favored tax cuts were like voices in the wilderness. Our elected leaders weren't interested in cutting taxes - they increased taxes on businesses and on working families, year after year.

Over the last five years, though, things have changed completely. It's not just that those years produced five major, bipartisan tax cuts in a row. Now, the fundamental mindset of state government leadership has changed, too. Every one of the Legislature's four leaders has a tax-reduction proposal this year, as does Governor Pataki. That, in itself, is a dramatic change for the better. It reflects a realistic assessment - that we've made an enormous amount of progress toward a truly competitive tax code, but we're not there yet.

So where are the tax cuts?

The spending debate isn't the only issue yet to be decided at the Capitol. The new budget must continue the progress we've made on cutting taxes. Other states, where businesses enjoy lower taxes than those in New York, have already acted to cut taxes this year.

If we're not moving forward by cutting taxes more, we're moving backward in the race to be competitive. So where are the tax cuts?