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NY Senate GOP’s ‘blueprint’: Cut taxes, toughen sex harassment laws

State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan outlined plans

State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan outlined plans for the upcoming legislative agenda. Credit: Newsday / William Perlman

ALBANY — The Senate’s Republican majority on Tuesday announced its “blueprint for a stronger New York,” which would cut taxes despite tight fiscal times for the budget, challenge Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s economic development programs and seek deals with Democrats on sexual harassment laws.

The 2018 legislative agenda released by Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) avoided mentioning President Donald Trump and distanced itself from the political rancor that revolves around the party leader in Washington.

“In Washington, Democrats and Republicans battle each other with predictable ferocity — sometimes producing gridlock and dysfunction, and sometimes producing policies that are counterproductive for many New Yorkers,” Flanagan said of the Republican-controlled Congress and White House, which are deeply unpopular in New York.

“Here in New York, we’ve taken a vastly different approach,” Flanagan said. “We’re working across the aisle to find common ground, partnering with upstate and suburban Democrats to move our state forward.”

The Senate GOP faces a difficult year of tight finances. This is also a re-election year that will again test the GOP’s narrow majority in a state dominated 2-to-1 by Democratic voters.

Flanagan’s proposals include:

  • “No new taxes. New Yorkers pay too much in taxes already and raising taxes cannot — and should not — be the answer.”
  • Make permanent the 2-percent cap on state spending increases and the 2-percent cap on local property tax growth.
  • Cut the household energy tax.
  • Reduce business regulations in a comprehensive regulatory reform package. Many of the regulations were created to protect the environment.
  • Cut taxes on small businesses.
  • Soften the federal tax plan enacted by the GOP Congress and Trump that will hit many New Yorkers, especially Long Islanders, because it limits the amount of state and local taxes that can be deducted from federal taxes.
  • Challenge the value of billions of dollars in tax breaks provided by the Cuomo administration to companies in exchange for retaining or attracting jobs in a “top-to-bottom review.” Flanagan said the Senate GOP will also examine the effectiveness of TV ads to attract employers that tout accomplishments by the Cuomo administration. State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has shed doubt on the effectiveness of the programs. “There can be no sacred cows,” Flanagan said.
  • New measures to combat violent gangs, heroin, and to strengthen sexual harassment laws.

“We must end the out-migration of New Yorkers, and we must stop the exodus of businesses,” Flanagan said.

The Assembly’s Democratic majority declined to comment. The Senate’s Democratic minority and Independent Democratic Conference, as well as a spokesman for Cuomo, had no immediate comment.

The legislative session begins Wednesday and is scheduled to end June 21.

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