Monday, June 14, 2010

Why I Refuse to Budge by New York State Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz

 Here is the statement in its entirety, from Senator Ruben Diaz Sr.

For some reason, my refusal to go along with budget extenders that include budget cuts is causing unusual concern about my responsibilities as a Democrat. As a Democrat, I am opposed to these deep cuts that will disproportionately impact the lives of my constituents and the lives of less fortunate New Yorkers.

I need to set the record straight about why I will not budge and why I will not vote for another budget extender that includes tax cuts. (I will vote for a budget extended that does not include tax cuts.) I want New Yorkers to know about the three solid legislative initiatives I support that would help balance the budget and fill the gaps. None of these proposed bills will hurt the needy, and all of them will help New York State.

1) Pass Senate Bill 1645 to create a New York State prescription medication cost containment program. This bill would allow institutions throughout New York State to make bulk purchases of prescription drugs from Canada for our seniors. Schenectady County serves as a model for this type of innovative program. In their first five years utilizing the Canadian drug program, Schenectady County’s savings in prescription drug costs have exceeded $9.4 million. This innovative program needs to be enacted throughout the State.

2) Pass Senate Bill S774 to force credit card companies to send taxes they have already collected directly to New York State instead of to the merchants. Presently, when people in New York make credit card purchases, the credit card companies send the collected taxes back to the merchants, instead of sending the money directly to the State. These merchants are then supposed to send these sales taxes to the State. For various reasons, many businesses only send an estimate or portion, others send nothing at all, and others declare bankruptcy - - as a result, New York State’s budget loses $500 - $600 million of tax revenue already … collected by credit card companies and owed to the State.

3) Enact legislation to collect taxes from cigarettes generated by American Indians sales to non-Native Americans. In the fiscal year 2008-2009, 40 million cartons of cigarettes sold by Native American were sold untaxed, translating to a loss of as much as $1.6 billion to New York State.

While much attention has been given to the push and shove match in Albany this year about our State’s budget, overlooked are fiscally responsible proposals I have made and continue to support that could save New Yorkers billions – yes, BILLIONS – of dollars to help fill these budget gaps.

There is no excuse that these three pieces of legislation remain in limbo. If and when they are enacted into law, weekly budget extenders will no longer be necessary. No matter what happens in Albany on Monday, I remain committed to representing my constituents and to defending against cuts to the poor and the needy.

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