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The Steuben Courier Advocate
  • O’Mara calls for end of ‘staggering’ energy tax

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2013-14 state budget proposal includes a five-year extension of a “staggering” energy tax, and Senate Republicans are calling on the governor to unilaterally remove the extension as part of his “no new taxes” declaration.

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  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2013-14 state budget proposal includes a five-year extension of a “staggering” energy tax, and Senate Republicans are calling on the governor to unilaterally remove the extension as part of his “no new taxes” declaration.
    ??Senate Republicans and several other groups held a joint news conference Tuesday in Albany to urge Cuomo to pull the extension from his budget proposal. Cuomo has the authority to make unilateral changes to his proposal during a 21-day period following the unveiling of the executive budget. In his budget address, Cuomo said no new taxes would be imposed on New Yorkers.??
    The Temporary State Energy and Utility Service Conservation Assessment, otherwise known as the 18-a assessment, was first imposed on utility customers in 2009. The higher assessment, from 0.33 percent to 2 percent, was set to expire in March 2014, and its extension would mean nearly a $3 billion hit for New Yorkers over the next several years, Senate Republicans said. Sen. Tom O’Mara, R-Big Flats, called the tax “staggering.”??
    “This higher utility tax was one of the worst products of one-party control in New York state government in 2009,” O’Mara said. “I voted against the increased assessment when it was first imposed on businesses ??and consumers four years ago. It was a bad move then, it’s worse now when New Yorkers find it even harder to make ends meet and the monthly utility bill continues to be sky high. Gov. Cuomo said ‘no new taxes’ in this budget and he should mean it.”
    ??Karyn Burns, the vice president of communications and government relations for the Manu- facturers Association of Central New York, said the tax extension would compromise the road to fiscal stability in New York.??
    “To continue this tax will most certainly compromise the business community’s ability to do everything they need to on this continued path towards economic recovery,” Burns said.??
    New York Farm Bureau Public Policy Director Julie Suarez said the expiration of the tax would help farmers cope with inflated feed and fuel prices.??
    “Profit margins are thin at best for many of New York’s family farms, and keeping the 2 percent ‘tax’ in place is not the business friendly approach that will help New York’s farms be more competitive,” Suarez said.??
    Senate Republicans were also joined at the news conference by representatives of the Business Council of New York State, the National Federal of Independent Businesses and AARP.??
    “This is a crucial kitchen- table issue, as state residents pay some of the highest utility costs in the nation, a status that takes an unduly harsh toll on the elderly and those on fixed incomes,” said Beth Finkel, state director for AARP New York.

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