Senate GOP betraying taxpayers again – By George J. Marlin
The following appears in the December 30, 2011 – January 5, 2012 issue of the Long Island Business News:
One year ago at Albany’s inaugural ceremonies, newly elected Senate Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos came up to me and said, “George, we have found our way.” By this he meant Republicans, who lost their 43-year hold on the Senate in 2008, had found their mislaid philosophical compass.
Between Gov. George Pataki’s first inaugural in 1995 and November 2008, the Republicans squandered their 37-to-24 Senate majority by adopting the agenda of liberal Democrats. Here’s a review of their Democratic “Lite” actions during that period:
- The GOP Senate supported a spending spree that catered to every left-wing interest group and drove New York’s bloated budget to increase three times the inflation rate.
- The GOP Senate extended that World War II-era relic, rent control.
- The GOP Senate approved the so-called Gay Rights Bill and the Hate Crime Bill, and they eliminated the medical insurance “conscience clause” for religious institutions.
- The GOP Senate in 2001 evaded Article 7, Section II of the state Constitution, which requires ballot box approval of general obligation debt, by creating state personal income tax revenue bonds. Under this borrowing scheme, billions of dollars worth of debt has been issued whose principal and interest are being paid out of future income tax revenues.
- The GOP Senate in 2003 approved legislation that increased taxes on personal income, business and sales to fund a budget that increased overall spending by close to 10 percent.
Years of GOP Senate ethical lapses, bungling management and abandonment of the conservative fiscal, economic and social principles on which they were elected, took their toll and in November 2008 the Democrats gained a slim majority.
However, Senate Republicans got another chance because tea party and Conservative Party activists turned out the votes necessary for them to gain a two-seat majority in 2010. The grateful GOP swore they had been cured of their liberal addictions and would now be the taxpayer’s champions.
Sadly, the GOP Senate quickly reverted back to old habits. In the 2011 budget negotiations, they revealed they were still captives of the teachers union by exempting pension contributions from the 2 percent school district tax cap. They supported, once again, the extension of rent control. They betrayed social conservatives by abandoning their solemn pledge to stop enactment of the same-sex marriage law.
The final outrage was the GOP’s embrace on Dec. 6 of legislation to extend New York’s biggest income tax increase since Nelson Rockefeller was governor.
The Senate GOP surrendered to the public sector employee unions and the Occupy Wall Street radicals. Contrary to their claims that the plan is not an increase, the fact that $2 billion more in tax revenue is expected next year proves them wrong. Worse yet, the extra revenue will not be used to replenish rainy day funds or to pay down debt but to increase education and Medicaid spending.
The GOP party line that the tax overhaul will not drive away wealthier New Yorkers is nonsense. The number of Long Islanders making over $1 million annually declined by 35 percent between 2008 and 2010. Expect the exodus of taxpayers from the Empire State to continue, thanks to the GOP’s apostasy.
The Senate Republicans have forgotten that government never taxes anybody into prosperity and that traditional values are the foundation of freedom. They have also failed to learn that “hide your conservatism” strategy never works because Republicans can never outspend or out-promise the Democrats and their Working Families Party ally.
The philosopher George Santayana warned: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Skelos and his Republican colleagues are condemning themselves to electoral oblivion because they are suffering from historical amnesia.