By Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan
When Republicans win the state Senate in November, our majority will be the most important firewall in history between every taxpayers’ wallet and government coffers.
And voters know it.
It seems some scared Democrats do too.
That’s because the Senate’s Democrat Conference will be composed of members soon to sail to victory in New York City, complete with a new far more leftist, socialist agenda — and one that’s been embraced by its leadership — as the be all, end all for every corner of this state.
That agenda includes Democrat socialist policies like single payer health care, taxpayer funded heroin injection sites, taxpayer funded campaigns, a Sanctuary State for illegal immigrants who commit aggravated felonies, abolishing ICE, and raising taxes to pay for it all.
Homeowners, business owners and every hardworking taxpayer upstate and downstate share in our concern that this is not only the wrong direction for New York State, but one that would create a financial nightmare for us all. Nobody wants to pay a single cent more in taxes, and only a Republican majority will not allow it.
New Yorkers want opportunity, affordability and security — issues that not a single Democrat talks about as they wave goodbye to 200,000 New Yorkers a year seeking opportunity elsewhere
The Senate Republican Majority is the lone voice of those doing everything they can to stay. Governor Cuomo recently blamed our serious outmigration problem on the weather, ignorant of the daily struggle of so many families and businesses across our state. Unfortunately, protecting New Yorkers from dangerous policies coming from New York City politicians is a full time job in Albany.
This year alone, we put the brakes on $1 billion in taxes and fees proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, and $20 billion in taxes and fees proposed by the Assembly.
The Republican Senate fought to make the 2% property tax cap permanent, while one-third of the Democrat Conference voted against it; and we put forward legislation to cap state spending, while two-thirds of our colleagues across the aisle voted no. The Senate Republicans wrote the law to create the largest middle-income tax cut in 70 years, putting money back in the pockets of the people who need it most.
That did not stop Governor Cuomo, with Democrats running scared on Long Island, from rolling out a “Contract for Long Island,” which brazenly featured tax policy plagiarized from senate Republicans.
While on Long Island, the Governor and Democrats leave out facts while attempting to whip the public into a frenzy over federal tax changes. While the Governor played politics, the Senate’s Republican Majority took the lead and passed legislation to decouple State and Local taxes (SALT) from federal taxes, forcing the Governor to amend his budget and allowing our residents to continue to take $1.5 billion in deductions.
While the Governor continued to point his finger in every direction but his own, the Senate Republicans went to the heart of the problem and fought to drive down property taxes even further by passing legislation for the state takeover of county Medicaid costs that would result in dollar for dollar property tax reductions. Democrats opposed it.
As the Governor admitted on National Public Radio, that the real problem facing New York as a result of the federal tax code is that it is a “high tax state.” It would be even higher, if not for Senate Republicans. Our constituents are thankful that Republicans are the balance, and the voice of reason who stop Democrats from absconding with their money.
The same day that the Governor stood for a press stunt on Long Island, cribbing Republican tax policy that will never see the light of day in our absence — Democrat candidates from the Hudson Valley and Long Island stood shoulder to shoulder with socialist primary winners in New York City, their supporters and prominent progressives like New York City Speaker Corey Johnson and New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer.
The Democrat Conference vows to enact single payer health care, and so do all the candidates they are running. Medicaid for All would double the state’s budget while taking away Medicare from our seniors. You cannot support a cap on spending and a permanent cap on property taxes, while supporting budget-doubling policies like socialized medicine.
There is no question that access to health care is vital for New Yorkers. That is why, Senate Republicans continue to work to remove waste, fraud and abuse from our system, while making sure insurance premiums and drug prices go down. This has resulted in statewide coverage increasing, going from 10% in 2013 to 4.7% last year. The answer lies in helping 4.7% access health care, not dismantling a functioning system and threatening the stability of jobs in health care.
But the contradictions don’t stop there.
How can we conquer the opioid and heroin epidemic that’s hit our communities hard, while Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul and Democrat candidates signal support for taxpayer funded injection sites that would make shooting heroin legal within a facility? Republicans in the Senate support rehabilitation to get New Yorkers the help they need. Meanwhile, one-third of the Democrats in the Senate voted against our common sense legislation to crackdown on dealers who peddle heroin within 1,000 feet of rehab centers.
How can we fight gangs like MS-13, a group responsible for killing Long Island youth, Latino youth, if Democrats support creating a Sanctuary State? To be clear, if an individual commits a serious crime and is in the country illegally, that individual does not deserve sanctuary. Where is the justice for Long Island’s victims?
Democrats who will be joining the Senate in January want to “Abolish ICE.” They have forgotten that ICE is a federal law enforcement agency created post-9/11 to facilitate interagency communication.
Democrats have made clear that they intend to repeat history by slashing school funding to upstate and Long Island schools. When Democrats briefly controlled the Senate, they created Gap Elimination Adjustment, shortchanging upstate schools. Republicans in the state Senate made sure that we restored funding to those schools to end the GEA. Senate Democrats also cut school aid to Long Island by up to 18%, instead sending money to New York City where the concentration of their conference represents. It will be no different with current Democrats. As Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul said during her debate, Long Island schools get too much money because of Republicans.
Rest assured, we will never let school children upstate or on Long Island be shortchanged.
Where do they want tax dollars to go? Democrats talk about taking corporate money out of politics, but never tell voters that they plan to take taxpayer money to replace it. Republicans simply do not believe hard-earned tax dollars should fund anyone’s political ambitions.
The most ambitious of all, of course, is Governor Cuomo, who hasn’t fooled anybody about how much he covets a run for the White House. He wants nothing more than total one party control of every branch of state government, leaving him completely unchecked and with a leftist narrative to run for president.
This, while his closest allies have been felled by corruption. He costs Albany its reputation and taxpayers pay for it.
New Yorkers have unfortunately foot the bill for expenses like $200,000 for Cuomo to hire attorneys to fight with the New York Times in an attempt to cover up emails related to the Buffalo Billions scandal. It costs us federal tax dollars to prosecute people like Joseph Percoco, the Governor’s closest advisor and campaign manager, who will spend six years behind bars for his role in the Buffalo Billions corruption scheme. Let’s not forget Cuomo’s other friends convicted in this shameful bid-rigging scandal: Todd Howe and Alain Kaloyeros.
Last week, Cuomo’s Buffalo operative Steve Pigeon pled guilty to federal bribery charges.
Cuomo is embroiled in a new scandal involving over $400,000 in donations from employees of Crystal Run Health Care and lied to the press about the company’s attorney flagging the contributions.
The corruption in the Cuomo administration seems never ending and we must clean it up. Good government groups hailed the Republican Majority for its passage of a sweeping common sense ethics and transparency reform package, including measures like a database of deals to tackle these issues head on. Self-serving Cuomo blocked these sensible reforms from moving in the Assembly, controlled by Democrats.
No one should trust that anyone other than the Senate Republicans will fight against corruption, and we fully intend to pass these measures again. The Governor’s Democrats have been tainted since they continue to accept his cash to advance his personal ambitions and agenda.
Thankfully, Republican voters value our important role in government. We will stand up to break-the-bank policies that will hurt every single New Yorkers. We will always remember that we represent every inch of this state, not just one city, and we will continue to create opportunity, affordability and security for all. We will be the balance in the face of the Governor and his leftist allies.