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For Release — Friday, August 6, 2004

COUNCIL DEFENDS LAWMAKERS FROM POLITICAL PUNISHMENT IMPOSED
AFTER THEY TRIED TO RESTRAIN GROWTH IN THE NATION'S HEAVIEST TAX BURDEN


ALBANY—The Business Council today strongly defended state lawmakers attacked this week by a union moving to punish the lawmakers for their efforts to restrain growth in the nation's highest tax burden.

"You and your colleagues have the courage to stand up for New York's taxpayers," Business Council President Daniel B. Walsh wrote in an August 6 letter to Assembly Minority Leader Charles Nesbitt. "The voters should know it. The Business Council stands ready to help you deliver that message."

The Council acted after the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), a teachers union, moved to punish the lawmakers for their 2003 votes against a $2 billion tax increase. The votes were cast against overriding Governor Pataki's veto of the tax increase, but it passed anyway.

"The Assembly Republican conference has a proud history of defending New York's taxpayers and working families," the letter said. "In 2003, you and many of your colleagues stood up to enormous pressure from Albany's powerful unions to reject the $2 billion tax increase that was enacted over Governor Pataki's veto. Your strong stand defined political courage."

Walsh rejected NYSUT's description of the lawmakers' vote against higher taxes as cutting education and raising local taxes.

"Last time we looked, school spending in New York was the highest in the country. And, despite the state-level tax increases, local school taxes across New York State rose by more than twice the rate of inflation in 2003.

"That huge tax increase in Albany did not prevent local tax increases, in large part because the unions continually push for higher taxes at both levels," Walsh added.

NYSUT had supported all 26 of these lawmakers in 2002. The union's statement on its political decision is at www.nysut.org/media/releases/20040805endorsements.html.

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