For Release — Friday, May 16, 2003
BUSINESS LEADERS FLOODED ALBANY WITH FAXES URGING LAWMAKERS TO REJECT TAX INCREASES
ALBANYAlmost 5,700 New York State business leaders have faxed over 28,000 letters to elected officials this eyar urging them not to increase state taxes. Almost a third of those correspondents logged on after the Legislature voted to increase income, sales and corporate taxes, but before it overrode Governor Pataki's veto of those tax increases.
The faxed letters were generated through electronic-advocacy initiatives conducted by The Business Council, in collaboration with local and regional chambers of commerce.
In the latest campaign, which was launched statewide on Saturday, May 3, 1,753 business men and women used the service to send messages to their own legislators and to the legislative leaders expressing their dismay over the Legislature's tax package. They generated 6,599 faxes already delivered, with more queued up behind busy signals.
"I am dismayed that the Legislature has voted to increase income taxes, corporate taxes and sales taxes in New York State," a typical letter says. "This is exactly the wrong way to deal with the recession. New York has already lost over 300,000 private-sector jobs. More taxes will mean even more jobs lost. Other states have frozen or reduced spending. New York can, too. I urge you to work with Governor Pataki in adopting a responsible state budget - not one that will wreak havoc with our economy."
Local business organizations with the strongest participations in the effort from among their membership included the Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce the ROchester Business Alliance, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce, The Chamber of Commerce of Orange County, the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, Niagara USA Chamber, the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce and the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce.
In the days immediately preceding passage of the tax package, 443 business persons had generated another 5,766 faxes to their own legislators, the legislative leaders and Governor Pataki opposing higher personal income taxes.
That campaign came on the heels of another one initiated by The Council on March 31 in response to increasing pressure from public-employee, hospital-worker unions, and others to increase corporate taxes. In that effort, 1,586 business leaders generated 8,010 faxes to legislators and Governor Pataki arguing against higher business taxes. And before that, 1,898 business leaders had sent 7,685 messages urging spending restraint rather than tax increases as the best response to the state's budget problems.
The Business Council and its research affiliate, The Public Policy Institute, have been arguing since last fall that New York's current fiscal challenge stems not from a shortage of revenues but from an excess of spending. In a series of reports in its Budget Watch '03 series, The Institute has shown that:
- If state-funds spending had simply risen no faster than inflation since 1998, the state would have saved $7.9 billion in the current fiscal year alone.
- New York spends about 2.5 times the national average per-capita on this program-and the cost of Medicaid is up by 21 percent, or a staggering $6 billion, in just the last two years.
- State aid to schools has grown by $3.7 billion in just the last five years-a growth rate that is more than twice the rate of inflation
- Despite commendable progress in cutting taxes over the last eight years, New York's tax burden remains well out of line with the burden of most other states.
- The number of state and local government jobs is about 14 percent above what it would be if we matched the national average per capita-and the combination of those extra jobs and higher-than-average salaries cost taxpayers an extra $14 billion a year.
The Budget Watch '03 series.