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March 26, 2003

Pataki administration, Senate reaffirm opposition to high taxes

New York State cannot return to a past in which high taxes turned the state into the nation's "greatest exporter of jobs," Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno told small business proprietors March 26 at The Business Council's annual Small Business Day in Albany.

As the state tries to close a cumulative budget deficit estimated at $11.5 billion, it must seek creative approaches, not a return to the high-tax mistakes New York made in the early 1990s, Bruno said.

In that era, New York learned the hard way that "you can't just do broad-based taxes. We cannot go back there."

Senator Bruno also argued once again that broad tort reform in Albany could ease cost pressures on society. (See a related story.) New York's lawsuit industry, he said, "is the fastest growing anything in New York State."

He noted that tort cases in New York State total more than $14 billion a year, which he said is about $800 for every New Yorkers. The state must ease cost pressures on businesses and municipalities by taking steps to ease costs of liability insurance and medical malpractice insurance.

In a keynote address at Small Business Day, Randy Daniels, secretary of state for New York State, also rejected higher taxes as appropriate policy for addressing the state's fiscal challenges.

"There are some that believe that we should follow the path of raising taxes. That would be a mistake," Daniels said. "As small business people, you realize that taxes have consequences. They affect decisions about hiring and investment. In the worst case scenario, they affect decisions about where you want to locate."

He added: "Yes, taxes matter. They matter a lot."

He noted that high taxes in the early 1990s in New York made this state's recession much worse than the rest of the nation's.

"While the national recession ended quickly, ours lingered for 43 long months. We cannot make that mistake again. As the Governor has said very clearly, we must choose jobs over taxes."