You may have received an unwelcome note with your last utility bill. The
note might have said something like: “Due to a state law that took effect
on July 1, 2009, utilities must collect a special assessment from all
customers for the state’s general fund. This assessment amounts to an
annual bill increase of approximately 2%.”
I want you to know that I voted AGAINST the state law that raises our
utility bills. This was part of the horrendous state budget adopted
earlier this year. I voted NO, and I’ve been speaking out loudly against
the state budget and its harmful consequences for Upstate families ever
since. I began speaking out right on the Senate floor during the debates
over the budget. You can watch video footage of some of my remarks by
visiting my YouTube Channel at: http://www.youtube.com/user/SenatorMaziarz.
For some, it may be difficult to appreciate how the debates over power and
policy in Albany effect the everyday lives of people living Western New
York. Well, here is a concrete example of how the downstate forces that
controlled the Senate in the Spring turned their backs on Upstate families.
The state budget they voted for taxes and spends more than ever before, at
a time when most people are cutting back. We are in tough economic times,
when every dollar counts, and now we can plainly see how the passage of the
budget in Albany resulted in the utility rate hike and the awful note
arriving in your mailbox.
The assessment (which is a fancy word for a tax) is expected to raise more
than $2,000,000,000 over the next five years. That’s $2 billion taken out
of the pockets of taxpayers and businesses to support the ever-increasing
array of state programs and services. Wouldn’t it be better to forego this
utility tax hike and live with a little less state spending, rather than
continue to make it more costly to live and do business in Upstate New
I’ve been trying to point out to my colleagues from downstate that their
priorities are backwards. Our primary goal must be to stop the exodus of
people and jobs. Representatives from downstate—where, relatively
speaking, the economy is humming—don’t see this problem like we do here in
Western New York. But we all know too many friends and family members who
have left town in search of better opportunities. We need to reduce taxes,
costs, and red tape, and create opportunities here.
So when you read that note and when you look at your utility bill, please
remember that I voted NO. And I will continue to say NO to any proposal
that further undermines our quality of life.