Long Island’s Voice for Fiscal Discipline and Spending Restraint
in this issue:
>  Long Island’s Voice for Fiscal Responsibility
>  Fighting to Rein in Runaway Debt
>  The Property Taxpayer Protection Act
>  Legislative Update
>  The Courage to Stand Firm Against Pressure Groups!
Dear Friend:

This 2009 Newsletter informs you of some of the important issues that affect you as a resident of New York. Given the circumstances of this state, it is imperative that we work together to rebuild, redefine and bring New York back to a time when we were proud to call New York “The Empire State.”

With property taxes at an all-time high, it is time to adopt policies which will protect homeowners. We should lower property taxes and support mandate relief measures to reduce local government costs. By reducing property taxes and the cost of doing business in New York, we can create a favorable, and attractive, place for businesses to grow, stay competitive and create jobs locally. Economic development will not only help create jobs, but will help alleviate the tax burden on struggling homeowners as well.

We also need to ensure that all children in our state receive a quality education and graduate to become productive and contributing members of New York’s workforce. New York has some of the best teachers and administrators in the country; however, taxpayer dollars are being wasted through expensive mandates from the state that prevent tax dollars from going into the classroom. Our children deserve a quality education at a price our taxpayers and parents can afford.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my district office at (631) 724-2929.


My plan for rebuilding and redefining New York:
“The public pension growth rate is unsustainable and taxpayers are going to be the ones who have to foot the bill.”
Public Pension Reform
Assemblyman Fitzpatrick knows that our public pension system guarantees benefits more generous than those offered in the private sector. Within 15 years, public systems, on average, will have less than half the funds necessary to pay pension benefits. Therefore, cost containment is pivotal to any reform measure.

The statistics are striking and underscore the importance of reforming our antiquated pension system. Total benefit payments in fiscal year 2008 totaled approximately $6.9 billion, up nearly 50 percent since 1999. Administrative costs have increased by more than 13 percent over the past year, to just over $90 million. And, the state pension fund itself is down $34 billion since the economic crisis began and may have to be recouped through higher taxes.

Fitzpatrick believes the first order of business to reform the public pension system is to remove all elected officials and political appointees in the state of New York from the defined-benefit plan and into a defined-contribution (e.g. 401 (k) type) plan. All elected officials and members of the “political class” must lead by example. That’s why earlier this year, Fitzpatrick introduced a reform measure that, if enacted, would cap the defined benefit retirement tier for all elected officials and political appointees in the state. This is the only way for officials to understand what taxpayers are going through. Under the bill, elected officials and political appointees would receive what they have earned up to this point at retirement age, but, going forward, they would have to pay their own way in a defined-contribution plan, the same way that workers in the private sector save for retirement.

In addition, the employer contribution would be reduced to 3 percent and the NYS Comptroller, as plan trustee, would be empowered to establish rules and regulations for administration of the new tier.
Property Taxpayer Protection Act
Our property tax system is broken. Rising property taxes have increased the costs of doing business and eroded our ability to compete. They have forced seniors from their lifelong homes and made it unaffordable for young adults to purchase their first homes. Unfortunately, it is clear that the Assembly Majority has conceded to powerful pressure groups, and remains intent on crushing any chance of the Legislature enacting necessary reforms to provide middle-class taxpayers with meaningful relief.

That’s why I proposed the Property Taxpayers Protection Act, which mirrors many of the recommendations proposed by a bi-partisan commission created to study our system. Modeled after Massachusetts’ successful Proposition 2 ½, the Property Taxpayers Protection Act would cap property taxes and decrease unfunded mandates on our local municipalities and school districts. The law would provide for real property tax reform and relief by controlling spending and relieving school districts of unfunded mandates. The bill, which would save taxpayers $16 billion over five years, would prevent school district property tax levies from increasing by more than 4 percent each year or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower, and allow voters to pierce the cap through a 2/3 vote. The bill also would require the state to fund any mandate imposed on a locality costing more than $10,000 annually or $1 million statewide. It also provides 100% reimbursement to schools for costs incurred from 4th and 8th grade Math and English tests, beginning in the 2009-10 school year.

“New York is at a crossroads as we can no longer rely on temporary fixes to address long-term problems.”
New York is at a crossroads as we can no longer rely on temporary fixes to address long-term problems. From rebate checks to property tax exemptions, each of these programs attempted to treat only the symptoms and not the underlying disease. High property taxes continue to choke small business growth and place immense strain on our family budgets. Businesses continue to flee from our state, and our brightest young minds follow. The only way to attract and retain businesses is to reduce the tax burden and allow them to prosper. Economic opportunity will provide our young adults with a reason to stay, and they will.

The Property Taxpayers Protection Act aims to do just that.

Fighting to Rein in Runaway Debt
State debt is currently $54 billion, or $2,797 per every man, woman, and child, annually; the second highest in the nation. This is incurred through backdoor borrowing by public authorities, which is passed on to future taxpayers.

Michael J. Fitzpatrick
50 Route 111, Suite 202
Smithtown, NY 11787
(631) 724-2929

Albany Office:
544 LOB
Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-5021
Assemblyman Fitzpatrick has introduced legislation to ban this type of borrowing without voter approval and would require that 10 percent of any budget surplus be used to pay down state debt. He’s also a strong supporter of legislation to revise the powers of the Public Authority Control Board (PACB) which issues debt. In addition, Fitzpatrick is pushing legislation that would disclose the amount of principal and interest that would be incurred by taxpayers.

Fitzpatrick will continue to demand transparency and accountability with all legislation that would have a financial impact on taxpayers.

The Courage to Stand Firm Against Pressure Groups!
Notable Recent Votes
Year Bill Description Increased Taxes, Fines and Fees Fitzpatrick Vote
2009 2009-10 State Budget $8.2 Billion* No
2009 NYC Sales Tax Increase $700 Million No
2009 2009 Local Tax Extension $1.461 Billion No
2009 Nassau/Suffolk Traffic Fines Increase $14.6 Million No
2008 2008-09 State Budget $926.85 Million No
2008 Local Tax Extension $135.4 Million No
* Including other revenue increases such as elimination of STAR Rebate checks, tax compliance
initiatives, and increased deposits on plastic bottles.

Long Island’s Voice for Fiscal Responsibility

Since his election to the State Assembly in 2002, Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick voted 341 times against $22.9 billion in state and local tax and fee increases. The state’s tax-and-spend philosophy has bankrupted our state and, once again, Fitzpatrick was Long Island’s strongest voice against the massive spending increases and middle-class tax hikes forced through in this year’s state budget, which jeopardize our state’s long-term financial health.

“…Fitzpatrick’s politics are firmly grounded…His intellectual consistency is refreshing.”
-Newsday, 10/24/06
Fitzpatrick fought to reduce government’s substantial tax burden and lift our state out of this mess. Instead, state government devolved into the same sclerotic three-men-in-a-room process, which found new ways to grow an already obese public sector, oblivious to the negative impact that higher taxes will have on our state’s increasingly fragile economy.

The 2009-2010 State Budget increased spending by 10 percent to $131.8 billion and contained over $7 billion in new taxes.

The lack of fiscal restraint, even in the midst of a recession as epic in scope as this one, demonstrates the insidious stronghold that powerful interests and public-sector unions have on state government and the budgetary process. Moving forward, Fitzpatrick will continue to advocate for the fiscal discipline necessary to prevent further deterioration of our fiscal health by supporting initiatives to limit year-to-year spending increases, boosting the Tax Stabilization Reserve Fund and requiring a two-year education funding plan to allow school districts and property taxpayers to plan ahead.