Changing the ways of Albany has proven to be a tough job for a new Governor. It's a task that has challenged leaders for decades. Now picture trying to change the system when your power base is nowhere near that of the state's top executive. YNN's Bill Carey says one local state Assemblyman has picked his issue and is fighting to be heard.
ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- On a holiday weekend, when many senior state lawmakers are taking it easy, Don Miller is catching up on paperwork. Much of his week has been spent in meetings with a variety of groups. In those discussions, he's been pressing his stand that all the talk about a property tax cap is misleading.
"A two percent property tax cap is dishonest. A two percent cap is actually a tax increase. Every year, two percent," Miller said.
Miller is pushing his own proposal for a zero percent tax cap. To compensate for local governments, his plan also calls for the state to pickup all of the costs of unfunded mandates. That, he says, would make it clear to voters just how much state government costs and would add pressure for real spending cuts. And, he says, it would free up new monies at the local level.
"Seventy-five percent of that revenue stream is turned back to the taxpayers. Twenty-five percent of that revenue stream stays with the local taxing authority to take care of things like the cost of gasoline for school districts, the price of salt for towns and villages. There are costs that are beyond their control and we need to take those into account," Miller said.
It is a sweeping proposal and it is probably going nowhere. The fact is that a minority member of the Assembly, and a freshman member at that, faces challenges in the legislative system in Albany.
"It's a very, very controlled process where some very, very good ideas get weeded out just because certain members don't like them," Miller said.
But Miller says he and other minority members of the Assembly are being listened to when they come back home in communities across Upstate New York.
Miller says the minority gains in last year's election, shows the talk of new ideas to resolve old problems is breaking through.
"The silent majority, sort of, found its voice. And all it did in 2010 is clear its throat. I think things, in the real world, are just sort of getting going," said Miller.
Offering hope, he says, for even the most non-senior legislators to finally have an impact.