Morinello Opposes Raising Taxes to Close New York State Deficit

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By: Tony Farina

The Citizens Budget Commission, a business-supported fiscal watchdog group, warned Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year that Medicaid costs could spike, and spike they did with the rising costs helping to create a $6.1 billion budget hole in the coming year.

The governor will most certainly address the largest budget gap since he took office in his State of the State address this week, and lawmakers are already crunching the numbers to figure out how to close the looming budget deficit with new revenue sources — like raising taxes on the rich — certainly in play.

Niagara Falls Assemblyman Angelo Morinello, when asked about the state of the state this week, summed it up in two words:  “Not good.”  But he’s warning against quick new revenue fixes like more taxes on the state’s wealthiest taxpayers and instead favors making the state work better and more efficiently in serving the public.

Morinello, a member of the GOP minority in the Assembly, says raising taxes on the state’s wealthiest taxpayers will continue to drive them out of the state, warning “pretty soon there won’t be any of them left.”

In fact, Morinello believes the state needs to take a different approach to deal with the budget crisis.

 

NYS Assembly Member Angelo Morinello.

 

“We need to look at what we can cut back on,” says the former Niagara Falls City Court judge, “and to find ways to economize.  I’m not in favor of cutting health care but rather looking at ways to cut back on the abuse of the system.”

Morinello represents the 145 District that includes Niagara Falls, North Tonawanda, Lewiston and parts of Erie County.  In addition to the budget deficit, Morinello’s minority GOP colleagues will be electing a new leader after the resignation of Canandaigua Republican Brian Kolb following his arrest on New Year’s Eve on driving while intoxicated charges.

“It looks like Will Barclay will take over the Republican leadership role,” said Morinello, referring to upstate lawmaker William Barclay, a nine-term Assembly member who has emerged as the frontrunner.

Of course, Republicans in Albany are scarce these days as Democrats control the Senate and the Assembly and the governor’s office.  Despite the lopsided political scorecard, expect moderates like Morinello to try and make their case to avoid a rush to raise and spend more money in the face of the budget deficit.

One area where Morinello is taking a public position is a proposal floating around to combine the state parks police with the state police, a move that he opposes, saying “they have two different mission statements.  It would raise the question of whether the parks would have the protection they need.”

On the homefront, Morinello likes the energy he sees from new Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino, saying he has put smiles on the faces of City Hall workers that haven’t been there in years.”

“I like what I see so far,” says the longtime public servant, “and I like the collaborative approach with the surrounding communities that he is pushing.”

For now, Morinello will join the chorus of lawmakers in Albany looking for ways to cut into the enormous budget deficit without driving people out of the state or injuring the poor already here who depend on Medicaid for health care.

“We just need to do a better job than we’re doing,” he says, adding the state needs to look at efficiencies in delivering services, not in piling on with more taxes and fees.

 

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