When former Governor Eliott Spitzer resigned in disgrace, David Paterson stepped into the governor’s office and took over the daunting task of running a state with tremendous fiscal woes. From a strictly GLBTQ point of view, he was a breath of fresh air and a lot of hopes were riding on him and his promise to bring same-sex marriage to New York.
But at what cost?
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m all for same-sex marriage. After all, I brought suit against my employer for recognition of my own same-sex marriage and the subsequent ruling that came from this suit brought recognition of same-sex marriages to the entire state. A couple of months later, Paterson ordered all state agencies to comply with this ruling — presumably because it was just the right thing to do. And it was.
But what about everything else? My first moment of incredulity where this guy is concerned was about a year ago, when I read the news about his proposed “obesity tax.” This tax would have amounted to about 15% of the cost of a non-diet soda or, more correctly, “non-diet drinks.” Interpreted loosely, this could mean milk, water, and 100% fruit juice, drinks that children need during their formative years.
A study by an independent group in Massachusetts indicates that “consumption of diet soda correlates with increased metabolic syndrome,” and that those who regularly consume diet drinks are “at higher risk for weight gain and elevated blood sugar.” The researchers also acknowledged that diet soda drinkers were less likely to consume healthy foods, and that drinking diet soda flavored with artificial sweeteners more than likely increases cravings for sugar flavored sweets. (Source)
He also called for reinstatement of sales tax on clothing and footwear. I have mixed emotions about this because, on one hand, clothing is essential but, on the other hand, there are a lot of clothes horses out there. I would favor taxing clothing that exceeds a certain dollar amount rather than across-the-board taxation. Low-income folks can’t carry these burdens equally with their $100,000 per year citizens and it’s stupid to tax any necessity across the board.
And now, this morning’s news is that Paterson has proposed holding back tax returns to save money. Now, this assumes that the money belongs to New York State, which it does not! It belongs to the taxpayers on whose backs a tremendous burden has already been placed. For many people, this money represents an “interest free loan” to the state government every year. NY State’s withholding tables are such that they are NEVER adequate so many New Yorkers opt for an additional withholding to ensure they don’t have to pay at the end of the year. I am outraged that Paterson would eyeball tax returns as a way to shore up financial defenses, if even for a month or two. And in the end, it only prolongs the inevitable. What then?
Instead, why not implement an excise tax on luxury items such as boats, second homes, vehicles over a specific dollar amount, and land over a certain size? The point here is that, if you choose to indulge yourself with expensive toys, you should pay a higher tax amount on those items than you would, say, food or clothing. The state of Massachusetts has an excise tax on cars and, while folks piss and moan about it every year, they pay their tax bills and keep their vehicles. The assessment is based on the depreciated value of the vehicle minus a certain percentage. We wouldn’t have to follow this completely — we could waive excise tax on vehicles that are more than, say, 10 models years old. If you like a new car every three years or so, then you shouldn’t have any problem paying this excise tax.
Extend “sin taxes” beyond alcohol and tobacco. Tax tanning beds, botox injections, and cellular phones (not the plans, as they’re taxed and surcharged to Hell and back). I’m not talking sales tax, I’m talking some other type of tax similar to that which he proposed be levied against non-diet drinks.
Mr. Paterson’s “vision” is tremendously blurred (no pun intended) and if he is all the Democratic party in NY State has to offer for the next gubernatorial election, then they’re in deep shit. We don’t need Paterson. He needs to bow out of the next election. He needs to sit down and shut up until that point.
But that’s just me…