Guest Column: Balance, Common Sense Needed on New York’s Energy Future | Columns

Tom O’Mara and Phil Palmesano

The cost of a gallon of gasoline keeps going up. Warnings continue to pour in about significantly higher home heating costs this winter and who knows how many winters to come.

All of this, along with the imminent start of a new legislative session in January, contributed to good timing for last week’s listening session in the Southern Layer on a bill that, if enacted, could reach the wallets of everyday New Yorkers and further reduce the bottom line of New York employers.

Specifically, we hosted a roundtable in Corning on legislation (S4264 / A6967), known as the “Climate and Community Investment Act” (CCIA). Introduced earlier this year by Democratic majorities in the Senate and State Assembly, the measure proposes accelerated state-level actions to implement broad and ambitious climate change policies. Of course, to help pay for it, it includes a new gasoline tax of 55 cents per gallon as well as an increase in taxes on fuel oil, propane and natural gas, which are expected to increase home heating costs by. 26%.

The CCIA is expected to collect $ 15 billion a year in new and increased fees and taxes levied on New Yorkers individually, hospitals, schools, colleges and businesses. Keep in mind that New York State only accounts for about 0.5% of global carbon emissions and the CCIA will only apply to New York, not neighboring states. It also does not apply to China, India or Russia, which account for 40% of global emissions.

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In addition, a true comprehensive cost-benefit analysis to transparently show the public what it will cost them and what we will gain was not required from the forerunner of the CCIA, the previously adopted Climate Leadership and Climate Protection. Act (CLCPA) and the Climate Action Council (CAC), which has not completed their recommendations. We have sponsored legislation (S7321 / A7524) to require this comprehensive cost-benefit analysis for the public. It is imperative that it is required and completed.

The CCIA is a bad decision, to say the least, in our opinion. New Yorkers are already hit by so many higher costs across the board and now is not the time for the state government to escalate the situation, all in the name of progressive politics. And especially not when the powers of Albany who have already raised taxes in this year’s state budget by more than $ 4 billion to help pay for $ 18 billion in increased spending – including $ 2 billion. dollars of that increase go to illegal immigrants for COVID unemployment benefits for the loss of jobs they weren’t legally allowed to have in the first place (and, all the while, New York still owes the federal government 9 billion dollars for unemployment funds borrowed during COVID and no effort was made to pay it back. This inaction has resulted in a significant increase in unemployment insurance rates for all businesses, despite the tax and tax revenues of the State exceeding budgeted expectations of $ 8 billion this year.)

This has sparked an endless search for more taxpayer dollars to allow for ever higher spending – and every taxpayer will pay the price at the pump, to heat homes and in many other places and in many ways. .

Our recent roundtable – and similar listening sessions that Republican Senate and Assembly conferences have held around the state – make it clear that any move in this direction would be disastrous. Participants at last week’s forum in Corning all pointed to the ever-increasing burden of escalating costs and the risk to the reliability of our electricity delivery.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), which represents more than 10,000 small businesses in New York state and hundreds of thousands more across the country, also declared its strong opposition to the CCIA during testimony. during our round tables.

The NFIB writes, “(Our opposition) is not a reflection of small businesses’ indifference to climate change or their commitment to address it, but rather the economic impacts on those who actually invest and hire in the industry. New York’s economy must be understood and evaluated in coordination with environmental goals… The increased costs of doing business anywhere in the economy will ultimately be felt throughout the economy by every employer, and most importantly felt by NFIIB members… New York State needs to take a step back and seriously consider the effects this proposal will have on small businesses and consumers.

They highlight one of the key points: Even without the CCIA, New York State has already set ambitious renewable energy targets. Working groups are underway on how best to meet current targets to tackle New York’s 0.5% impact on global climate change.

The CCIA even expects job losses and negative impacts on the property tax base of schools and local governments. It establishes a “Fair Fund” that will provide compensation to displaced workers up to three years’ salary, and payments to school districts and local governments for lost tax revenue resulting from the closure of industries.

We believe that at every step of the way there must be a constant recognition of the need for balance and common sense in the pursuit of goals that are paramount to New York’s energy future. There absolutely needs to be a meaningful analysis of the costs versus the benefits of these actions and the impacts they will have on the reliability and affordability of our energy system.

The CCIA, CLCPA and CAC fail in this regard.

New Yorkers already pay America’s ninth-highest gasoline tax at 46.19 cents per gallon, according to the Tax Foundation. If the proposed 55-cent gasoline tax were added, New York would have the highest overall gasoline tax in America.

To add to the alarm, home heating costs, even without this additional measure, are already expected to increase by 25-40% this winter.

If environmental extremists are successful, homeowners will not be able to burn wood or pellets to heat their homes and will have to convert their natural gas, propane or oil-fired furnaces to electric furnaces at estimated costs of over $ 30,000. per household.

New York’s tax climate has long been considered by the Tax Foundation to be one of the worst in the country.

Instead of raising another tax or fee, Governor Kathy Hochul should immediately suspend the state gasoline tax, as our Republican conferences in the Senate and Assembly recently called for.

Ignoring the realities, the Democratic supermajorities controlled by upstate New York enacted a state budget this year, raising taxes by nearly $ 5 billion. It appears that they will continue to seek more taxpayer money to afford more and more of their out of control and out of touch, so called “progressive” agenda. Along the way, every New Yorker will pay the price at the pump, to heat homes and many other ways and places with widespread price increases on everything from food to toilet paper.

The continued implementation of these regressive taxes will leave low- and middle-income families and workers, motorists, truckers, farmers, small businesses, manufacturers and many other industries, as well as the elderly among the most hard hit.

It is the pursuit of a future that increasingly resembles New York by being left by the economic roadside with no noticeable impact on the global climate.

State Senator Tom O’Mara represents the 58th District and is a senior member of the finance committee; State Assembly Member Phil Palmesano represents the 132nd District and is a senior member of the Energy Committee

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