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License Plates

Since it was enacted by New York Governor David Paterson and the Democratic leaders of the state Legislature last April, I’ve protested the 2009-2010 state budget for raising taxes and fees to the tune of more than $8 billion.You name it, and this year’s state budget has probably taxed it. It was a massive package of tax-and-fee hikes — the largest in state history – that’s gouged, month after month, utility customers, local property taxpayers, small business owners, sportsmen, college students, and so many other taxpayers. Those of us who were strongly opposed to, and voted against, this year’s state budget have been saying all along that it was the wrong budget at the worst possible economic time. The state just keeps nickel-and-diming already hard-pressed New Yorkers. It’s outrageous, and we can’t stand for more of the same tax-and-fee approach in the ongoing rounds of deficit reduction.For example, consider what it costs to drive a car in New York under the new state budget. Despite a tough economy and high gas costs, New York’s drivers are being forced to pay even more. As part of this year’s state budget, a broad range of motor vehicle registration fees were increased beginning on September 1st. Passenger and commercial vehicle registration fees were raised, along with the fees for registering trailers, motorcycles, ATVs, boats, and custom vehicles, among others.Overall, these new fees are expected to raise more than $152 million – all of which will be deposited into the state’s General Fund meaning, in other words, that the tax dollars can be used at the whim of Albany’s leaders. And on it goes. So over the past few months I’ve been joining county clerks and citizens statewide voicing opposition to one new state mandate that will require every New York motorist to purchase new license plates beginning in April 2010 — whether new plates are needed or not, at a cost of $25 per vehicle. The new $25-per-vehicle license plate requirement was also included in this year’s state budget and intended to raise $129 million in new revenue for the state. While Governor Paterson and his fellow Democratic leaders in the Senate and Assembly have recently indicated a willingness to rescind the new mandate, not long ago a spokesman for the governor said the state is moving forward with it “until there is an agreement on how to replace that revenue.” In my experience, that’s Albany speak meaning “full speed ahead on a state mandate that’s still on the books.” We can’t be certain unless and until a new law is approved that strikes down this onerous state revenue grab.You better believe I’m wary of mere pledges from Albany’s leaders to eliminate the mandate. They’ve demonstrated no ability whatsoever to reach agreement on anything important to New York’s taxpayers. So we need to continue to pressure them to immediately eliminate the mandate and, as part of this ongoing protest, I’ll continue to offer a “Join The Fight!” petition on my Web site, winner.nysenate.gov. We just have to keep raising our voices against this tax madness. This online petition is one more way to do it.

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