The holiday season is upon us and the coming New Year also means a new legislative session is just around the corner. This year we will have the enormous task of eliminating the immense budget gap only made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. While New York has faced massive budget deficits for some time, this year’s deficit will be on a much larger scale than it has been in previous years. The deficit for this year is estimated to be around $14.5 billion. As a way to help close the gap, some of my colleagues across the aisle have proposed a new $3 tax on customers for every package delivered in the five boroughs of New York City.
We are at the height of the holiday season, and due to the pandemic, now more than ever people are shopping online for gifts and everyday essentials. Punishing the consumer is not the answer to the state’s looming budget crisis. I feel it is outrageous to ask people to pay an extra tax while we are in the midst of a pandemic. For months the governor begged New Yorkers to stay home to stop the spread of the virus. We cannot punish people for ordering online while asking them to stay home.
I believe this proposal is completely unfair and out of touch with the average New Yorker. While $3 may not seem like a lot to some, for others it can be the difference between a trip home on the subway or not ordering their items. That $3 fee also adds up over time. Also, what about the fact that some shipments come in multiple packages? Are we to charge just for the orders themselves or for the actual packages, and if so, how would this be done? Additionally, it isn’t a stretch to say this policy could spread through the entire state if we cannot come up with new streams of revenue.
The governor himself said if he doesn’t get the money from the federal government, he will impose a tax increase in order to generate more revenue. What he fails to realize is he is taxing people out of the state. People can only put up with so much before it becomes too much of a burden and they choose to leave New York for good, diminishing our tax base. Raising taxes is not the answer.
The governor cannot continue to depend on Washington to throw New York countless life lines. The federal government is not in the business of bailing out financially mismanaged states. Cuomo must take it upon himself to cut the lavish programs, such as Medicaid expansion, that he has implemented over the last ten years. I previously supported a spending cap that would prevent New York from over taxing and over spending, as well as a bill that would reduce private property taxes by providing a Medicaid restructuring plan while saving tax payers $465 million in the first year alone.
We need strong and sensible leadership as we navigate the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is time to help the people who have been suffering during the pandemic, not burden them with an extra $3 fee on online deliveries. I believe now is the time to seriously consider relief for small businesses. Back in March, I supported the Small Business Recovery Act. Now more than ever small businesses need our help. If we can create a 0% interest loan program to help small businesses meet payroll commitments, repurposes tax credits and suspend regulatory fees, we can help these businesses endure the COVID-19 pandemic.