OpEd: Byrne Talks Taxes & Spending and Presents Plan to Right-Size County Government

Posted: December 21, 2021 in In the News, Taxes

By Assemblyman Kevin Byrne, Republican Candidate for Putnam County Executive in 2022

Politicians like to talk tough about taxes and spending, but they rarely offer real solutions to reduce the tax burden or shrink the size of government. Some politicians simply vote “no” on large costly budgets and consider that symbolic statement enough, but it’s not. 

My record on taxes is clear. As Assemblyman, I voted “no” on every proposed tax increase that came before me. Every “no” vote I made on any of New York State’s notoriously out-of-control budgets was accompanied by real proposed solutions to help fix our state and provide genuine relief to overtaxed New Yorkers.  Reducing the tax burden is a priority that should apply to every level of government, and county government is no exception. 

Here are some ideas I support and will bring to county government as your next Putnam County Executive:

● 𝙋𝙧𝙞𝙤𝙧𝙞𝙩y-𝙗𝙖𝙨𝙚𝙙 𝙗𝙪𝙙𝙜𝙚𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜. Spend within your means and allocate your resources to your priorities. You probably do this at home, and we should do it in county government. 

● 𝙁𝙧𝙚𝙚𝙯𝙚 𝙥𝙖𝙮 𝙧𝙖𝙞𝙨𝙚𝙨 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙚𝙡𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙚𝙙 𝙤𝙛𝙛𝙞𝙘𝙞𝙖𝙡𝙨 – including the county executive.

● In addition to following the state-mandated tax cap, we should work to 𝙨𝙚𝙡𝙛 𝙞𝙢𝙥𝙤𝙨𝙚 𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙤𝙬𝙣 𝙘𝙖𝙥 on new discretionary county spending.

● Say 𝙉𝙊 to new costly tax diversion proposals that would siphon away county resources and simply make it easier for other local governments to spend more taxpayer money.

● Eliminate the sales tax for basic clothing and footwear for all people, including low income & middle class families who are disproportionately affected by the tax. This idea first came to me after our current County Executive MaryEllen Odell sought state legislative approval to create a “sales tax holiday” in the county. The state of New York’s Department of Tax & Finance rejected the county’s proposal for a one day or week long holiday on all county sales tax, but made it clear there was an opportunity for county governments to opt into eliminating sales tax for these specific items (clothing and footwear under $110) year-round. Dutchess County just opted in this year, and Putnam County should build a plan to do so as well when it has the financial stability and means to do so.

● Introduce a 𝙏𝙖𝙭𝙥𝙖𝙮𝙚𝙧 𝘽𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙤𝙛 𝙍𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩𝙨 that ensures the following:

  •  Any proposed tax rate increase will be discussed in an open and transparent manner allowing the public to be fully informed;
  • Any proposed tax rate increase will include extended public comment periods beyond the minimum that is required by state law;
  • Any tax rate increase should be passed by a ⅔ majority vote (or supermajority) of the County Legislature.

● Additionally, our county government should continue to actively pursue opportunities to review, consolidate & centralize county resources and programs in order to save money and make services more efficient and cost-effective.

● Lastly, we should continue to partner with other local governments and municipalities to revisit new opportunities for shared services to help reduce the cost of services to taxpayers.

If a candidate or elected official wants to talk seriously about taxes, then that conversation must also address spending.Otherwise, their actions will either increase our debt obligation or simply redistribute our residents’ earned income. Neither addresses the root cause of high taxes.

In the end, if our county government has more money than it needs, we should find a way to give it back to taxpayers.

Throughout my time in the State Assembly, I consistently fought Albany’s tax and spend mindset and advocated for opportunities to provide genuine tax relief for our hardworking neighbors and families. 

Rest assured, as your next Putnam County Executive I’ll bring that same determination and commitment to county government to control spending, reign in taxes, and ensure Putnam County residents receive the level of services they deserve.

Learn more about me, my plans and vision at www.Byrne4Putnam.com

Assemblyman Kevin Byrne, Republican Candidate for Putnam County Executive in 2022