By Linda Imhauser
The 2015 state budget is a travesty for the average Ne York resident. Gov. Cuomo and the Republican-controlled state Senate have eliminated many taxes on the wealthy, including sales taxes on yachts costing over $230,000 and private planes. State Sen. Sanders of South Ozone Park remarked that when he tried to find yacht and jet owners in his district, he couldn’t find any. There are none in my district either.
The Senate also lowered the top estate tax rate, increased the threshold from $1.1 million to $5.5 million and indexed future estate taxes to inflation. In addition, lawmakers voted to raise their own salaries but refused to increase the minimum wage or index it to inflation.
Many state lawmakers have recently been involved in shameful scandals and arrests, including former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. The New York Legislature desperately needs ethics reform, but their so-called reform contains so many loopholes and exceptions that it’s worthless.
Instead of increasing funding for public schools, charter schools will now receive the same amount of money per student as public schools. Charter schools are publicly financed but privately run and by law they must be given free space in our public schools. According to the office of Republican State Senate leader Dean Skelos, $54 million allocated for “school districts, public libraries and non-for-profit institutions” will be used to fund charter schools. If we don’t protect our public school system, we will have a hodgepodge of privately run schools with little oversight and accountability.
Once again politicians have voted to provide loopholes for the rich and powerful at the expense of the average person. Gov. Cuomo calls himself a Democrat, but Dean Skelos has called him “a good moderate Republican.” Now that Cuomo has shown his true colors, he needn’t bother to pursue higher office because Democrats will not be fooled into voting for him again.