Gov. Paterson did the right thing yesterday. He scrapped $1.3 billion in proposed taxes on consumer goods and services, including an 18 percent sales tax on regular soft drinks, haircuts, iPod downloads, clothes, shoes, cable and satellite TV service and home improvements.
In his news conference announcing his change of heart, the Governor recognized the very points Sip & Savor has made all along: these taxes would hurt the economy and the ability of hard-working families to dig out of a terrible recession. It would add to the financial burden of New Yorkers when buying everyday goods or services. And it would threaten New Yorkers' jobs at a time when the nation is losing more than 600,000 jobs a month-and New York is certainly taking its proportionate share of those losses.
"Nobody likes to tax people," the Governor said yesterday. "Now that enhanced federal funding is available, our highest priority must be to provide targeted relief to ... average New Yorkers struggling to make ends meet."
So, indeed, Gov. Paterson used the stimulus money in the way it was intended - to protect jobs, ease financial burdens on families and start the process of growing the economy again. Taxes impede economic growth, plain and simple. When people have money, they're able to buy things and stimulate the economy. When responsible businesses have cash, they're able to invest it in growth and job creation.
It's the right formula for breaking out of these turbulent economic times. Empower the people and responsible businesses to get back on track and lead us to better days.
We also appreciate that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith stood with Gov. Paterson and made the same commitment yesterday. It gives us confidence that this commitment by the Governor and legislative leaders will actually come to fruition. And the beverage industry will continue working with the Governor and lawmakers to make sure the state's budget needs are addressed in a manner that doesn't cost consumers more money or put their jobs at risk.
Again, we tip our hat to Gov. Paterson, as well as to Speaker Silver and Majority Leader Smith for their important assist. These leaders are facing truly tough problems. But when the Governor's initial ideas aren't really the best laid plans, he deserves credit for listening to his constituents and making the right adjustments.
Score one for New Yorkers today. And score one for a budget process that listened to the people and job-providers of New York on this one.