Ortt wants state budget to provide tax relief, fight heroin epidemic

Posted 22 March 2016 at 12:00 am


Several days ago, the New York State Senate passed its one-house budget resolution, kicking off negotiations with the Assembly and Governor to adopt this year’s state budget.

The Senate’s proposal outlines benefits to working families, businesses and schools, including tax cuts, education funding, infrastructure and transportation parity, and funding to combat the heroin epidemic.

We’re providing significant tax relief for middle-class taxpayers, small businesses and farmers. The Middle Class Income Tax Relief Program would create a new 25 percent tax rate reduction, saving millions of middle-class taxpayers an average of $897.

Nearly 800,000 small businesses will also benefit from this income tax cut. For farms and small businesses, we eliminate the energy tax and build upon the Governor’s small business tax breaks to help create jobs. For seniors, our budget will cut taxes on private pensions and retirement income, saving them an average of $361 each year.

We’re also pushing to make the statewide property tax cap permanent, so that we can provide certainty and relief to homeowners, small businesses and farmers. Along those lines, the STAR rebate check program would also be permanent under our plan. And, we’re rejecting the Governor’s proposal to cap savings on the STAR program.

I understand the challenges of New York’s crippling tax climate, and the annual property tax relief is something Western New Yorkers deserve in its entirety. This plan ensures that property owners continue to receive relief for years to come.

Last year, the State Legislature eliminated nearly all of the anti-Upstate, Gap Elimination Adjustment, which saved taxpayers in my district $18 million. This year, the Senate is fighting to get rid of the remaining $436 million of the GEA school budget cuts. As a result, this will provide record funding of $1.6 billion to public schools across the state so that teachers and students won’t have to struggle for the resources they desperately need.

The one-house budget also makes college more affordable for thousands of students and families. The Senate Republican conference has proposed $87 million for the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), as well as new major tax breaks to help middle-class families pay for college.

We’re also calling for parity between upstate and downstate infrastructure funding. Upstate has been dealing with a disparity for our roads, bridges and public transportation for far too long, and now, the Senate Republican Majority is pumping the brakes on this unfair treatment.

The Senate’s budget proposal also focuses on our veterans. It would allow our vets to obtain up to three years of additional credit toward their state retirement benefits for peacetime military service. Our veterans have done so much for us and our country, it’s time we do more for them.

One of the last topics in the budget I’d like to highlight is the record funding of $167 million to help put an end to the dangerous heroin crisis. The heroin epidemic is sweeping across our state at an alarming rate without discrimination of its victims. This budget proposal represents our conference’s firm commitment to addressing and ultimately eradicating the epidemic in New York State.

From educating the public, to helping addicts, to putting more dealers behind bars, we’ve put forth proposals to attack each area of this public health crisis. I’m hopeful the Assembly and Governor will follow our lead to deliver resources to communities and families in dire need of relief.

I believe our Senate Majority budget proposal touches on many of my legislative priorities that will help to make Western New York a better community to live, work, and raise a family. I look forward to working with the Assembly and the Governor in order to achieve these key goals and deliver a fiscally responsible, on-time budget by April 1.

State Sen. Robert Ortt
62nd Senate District