Norris urges no state tax hikes with surplus to be used for infrastructure
Press Release, Assemblyman Mike Norris
LOCKPORT – Assemblyman Mike Norris (R,C-Lockport) renewed calls for state budget surpluses to be spent toward improving infrastructure and improving access to broadband internet service for communities across upstate New York. He said that between the one-shot federal stimulus investment and increased tax revenues coming into the state, there was no need for any tax hikes.
“Everyone has agreed that despite the pandemic we now have more money coming into our state than we originally anticipated,” Norris said. “While this is welcome news, this is not the time to increase spending that we cannot sustain year after year. A smart use of this funding would be to make much-needed capital improvements to our local roads, which have not seen a funding increase in nearly a decade, and to ensure that all New Yorkers have access to broadband internet, a service that is more necessary than ever before and will certainly continue to be essential to the daily life of every person moving forward.”
In addition to serving as a member of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, overseeing the budget process, Norris has also been appointed as a member of the Joint Budget Conference Committee on Transportation.
He said he welcomes the opportunity because it gives him another platform to advocate for increased funding for local road programs, like the Consolidated Local Street and Highway (CHIPS) Program and Extreme Winter Recovery program. While the governor’s proposed cuts to these programs were restored in the Assembly’s one-house budget, Norris said more must be done as CHIPS, the program responsible for the maintenance projects of local roads, bridges, sewers and culverts, has not had a funding increase since 2013.
Norris has been a proponent for expanding broadband internet across the state, particularly in rural communities where it can be particularly challenging for distance learning, remote work and even emergency services.
“Without access to high-speed broadband service schoolchildren will not be able to do their homework even after full-time, in-school instruction returns,” Norris said. “Businesses will not be able to compete. These services are essential and have been for some time. The pandemic only highlighted how far behind too many communities in our state still are. We must correct this, especially since we have the opportunity and funding now to do so.”
Norris is also calling for the reimagining of the state’s existing economic development programs to fund an initiative he created, known as the New York Business Emergency Relief Act of 2021 (A.4692). This legislation offers grants to reimburse small employers for revenues lost during the pandemic shutdown.
He said he was encouraged to see that his idea has gained traction in the state Legislature and a similar proposal was included in the Assembly’s one-house budget.
“This measure is absolutely essential,” Norris said. “These businesses were shut down by no fault of their own. The state has an obligation to help them get back on their feet before more jobs are lost and more New Yorkers have to move out of state.”
Norris said he also hopes to see funding restorations to essential constituent programs that fund libraries, support veterans, including the Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Peer Counseling Program, and to ensure that people with developmental disabilities are protected from Covid-19 and have greater educational and long-term care options.