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January 7, 2003

Council praises Senator Bruno for stance on raising taxes

The Business Council today praised Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno for his "consistency and persistence" in opposing a return to high-taxing, high-spending policies of the past.

"We applaud you once again for your consistency and persistency in encouraging actions on the state level which will lead to the type of economic growth New York must have if it is to meet the many needs of its people," Business Council President Daniel B. Walsh said in a Jan. 7 letter to the Senate Majority Leader.

"Like you we believe the problems facing the state must be met head on and without resorting to the failed 'spend and tax' policies of the past."

"The decisions made in 2003 will affect our state's economy for years to come," the letter said. "If the fiscal decisions follow your recommendations, this state will be healthier and stronger and better positioned to capture the job growth sought by most New Yorkers."

Walsh sent the letter a day after Senator Bruno indicated his strong opposition to increasing broad-based taxes as a way to cope with the state's current fiscal challenge.

"We shouldn't be raising taxes ... it makes us less competitive with other states," Bruno told the Albany Times-Union. "My whole philosophy in government, state government, is that our role ought to be to be friendly to business and the professionals because they truly are the revenue raisers that fund all the public services."

Senator Bruno reiterated his opposition to broad-based tax increases even as pro-spending pressure groups stepped up their campaign to raise taxes.

Civil Service Employees' Association (CSEA), the National Education Association (NEA/NY), and New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) Monday reaffirmed their support for an increase in the state's personal-income tax. That proposal has been advanced by the left-of-center Fiscal Policy Institute (FPI), which is funded largely by public-employee unions.

In addition, the New York State Public Employees Federation (PEF) bought a full-page ad in the weekly Legislative Gazette criticizing The Business Council for raising questions about how New York State spending compares to other states. The ad is an apparent reference to Budget Watch '03, a series of reports analyzing state spending that The Council's research affiliate, The Public Policy Institute, began publishing in early November.

That ad, which does not specifically address any of the data or arguments raised in Budget Watch '03, endorses the FPI's tax increase proposal.

The FPI plan would impose a "temporary" increase in the state's top income-tax rate designed to tap taxpayers for an additional $3 billion a year."The time is right fiscally, politically and societally for the governor and the legislative leadership to enact an income-tax surcharge or some other kind of revenue enhancers," a NYSUT spokesman told Capitolwire.com, an on-line news service.

"This proposal to increase taxes would be a significant economic setback for many thousands of New York households, including many union households," said Business Council President Daniel B. Walsh. "This is not the right policy prescription for any New Yorker from any sector."

The Capitolwire.com story noted that public-employee unions in New York "are concerned about the impact of spending cuts and possible employee layoffs."