Washington Tax Plan Causes Major Problems for New York

December 2, 2017

Friend –

This week brought more troubling financial news for the Capital Region from Washington, as the U.S. Senate moves closer to passing the GOP Tax Bill. The economy and location of our region mean that there are few places in the nation that would be as adversely impacted. Both the U.S. House and Senate proposed bills could economically devastate our region:

Tax Reform: New Yorkers would see 1.6 million taxpayers in the bottom of 80% of income earners pay more in taxes by 2027 under the House bill, with even more than that affected by the Senate version of the bill. More than 62% of the Senate bill’s benefits would go to the top 1% of income earners.

In the Capital Region in particular, where the largest economic sectors aside from state government are healthcare and higher education, this bill would be particularly devastating. The House Bill would cut $1.7 billion in Medicare funding from New York next year, and increase the state’s uninsured population by close to one million people by 2019! More than 450,000 New Yorkers claimed an average of $9,800 in medical expense deductions in 2014, which would be eliminated under the plan.

The plan would also count tuition waivers given to most graduate students as income, nearly doubling their tax liability overnight, severely impacting the ability of many colleges and universities in our region to attract graduate students. Over 780,000 New York taxpayers claimed an average of $1,100 dollars in student loan interest deductions.

Moreover, the largest impact comes from the elimination of the State and Local Tax Credit (SALT). Over 3 million New Yorkers claimed an average deduction of more than $21,000 in 2014. The National Association of Realtors estimates this could reduce the value of homes in New York by an average of 10%. The bill also eliminates the Historic Preservation Tax Credit, which has been vital to the revitalization of downtown Albany and Troy, as well as countless "main streets" throughout our towns, region, and state.

Bump Stock Bill Gets Fact Check. Poltifact New York recently fact-checked a statement from Governor Cuomo about the legality of bump stocks, devices designed to increase the rate of fire of semi-automatic weapons, in New York. The Governor claimed in October that bump stocks were illegal in New York, which Politifact corrected. The Governor is correct in that it is illegal to use a bump stock in New York, they are perfectly legal to buy, sell, and possess. I introduced legislation in October to ban the possession and sale of bump stocks in New York, and look forward to closing this loophole in the coming legislative session.

Albany Schools Receive Afterschool Program Funding. Governor Cuomo announced the school districts awarded funds from the $35 million Empire State After-School program. Given the serious needs of working parents, afterschool programs have been a top funding priority for me. This funding was approved in the 2018 budget will provide additional afterschool spots for some 22,000 students across New York State. The City School District of Albany will receive $1.3 million in new funding for afterschool programs, a huge success!

Altamont Enterprise Article on Historic Cobblestone Schoolhouse. Earlier this year, I attended a meeting of the Guilderland School Board to encourage them to allocate funding to repair a pre-Civil War cobblestone schoolhouse, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Altamont Enterprise ran an article last week detailing the future of the schoolhouse, which I strongly support and have offered to work with the board and district to help preserve this historic and educational gem.

Suggestions for Guilderland Property Tax Adjustments in Letter to Governor. Last month, along with Senator George Amedore, I wrote to Governor Cuomo to suggest changes to the policies of the New York State Office of Real Property Tax Services in response to a large property tax increase affecting certain residents in Guilderland. The Altamont Enterprise outlines some of the suggestions, including changes to the way commercial properties are selected for the purposes of setting equalization rates. The Times Union profiled legislation I introduced last with Sen. Amedore last week and this remains one of my top priorities going into 2018.

Community Updates & Events

Saint Catherine’s Cabaret for Kids Today. Katie Buddenhagen, a senior at Academy of the Holy Names in Albany, is producing a fun-filled musical cabaret for her community-service project. All proceeds from the show will be donated to St. Catherine’s Center for Children! The show is at 7:00 PM on Saturday, December 2nd, at the Academy of the Holy Names Arts Center on 1074 New Scotland Road in Albany. Tickets are $10 each.

Holiday Bazaar at Thacher Park Today. Thacher State Park will host a holiday bazaar on Saturday, December 2nd from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Shop for unique hand-crafted gifts made by local artisans and crafters, including jewelry, pottery, wooden wares, framed artwork, soaps and beauty products, fleece and woolen items, original artwork, pine needle baskets, honey products, wildlife photography, delicious foods and snack items and much more. Find nature books, wooden toys, and stocking stuffers in our gift shop, too. Enjoy live music that'll put you in the holiday spirit. Call 518-872-0800 for more information.

Tree Lighting at Empire State Plaza on Sunday. The New York State Holiday Tree Lighting will take place this Sunday, December 3rd, at 5:00 PM at the Empire State Plaza. The program includes the official lighting of the tree and fireworks. The event also coincides with the free Taste NY Holiday Market at the New York State Museum, and a free concert with The Zucchini Brothers at The Egg at 3:00 PM.

Victory Church Holding “Guns for Gifts” Gun Buyback. Victory Christian Church at 118 Quail St in Albany, will be holding a no questions asked gun buyback on Saturday, December 2nd from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Owners of illegal handguns will be able to turn them in for a $100 gift card to Crossgates Mall. The program has been such a success in recent years, that this year it expanded to Troy. For more information, call 518-857-0226.

Job Opportunities: New York State has set up a new job portal entitled Jobs Express, where thousands of private and public sector jobs are listed. Visit jobs.ny.gov for more information on how to apply for these opportunities.

As always, for the latest news or for upcoming events, please visit my office online on Facebook, on Twitter, or my Times Union blog. If you would like to reach my office, please feel free to send us a note or call at 518-455-4178.