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But don't call them taxes...:rolleyes:

- The governor wants to quadruple a fee motorists pay, to $20, on their auto insurance, to raise $145 million for maintenance on upstate bridges and State Police activities.

- He also wants to add a $20 fee for motorists to get drivers' licenses that can be used as ID to cross into Canada. That will take another $52.5 million out of New Yorkers' pockets, the state Budget Division estimates.

- Spitzer has also proposed raising fees for some real-estate transfers, with the top figure going from $75 for some residential properties to $400, which will raise an estimated $21.5 million for the state.

- Another $12 million is due to be lifted from New Yorkers' wallets through a new fee on wireless telephones.

- Then there is the plan to allow some homeowners' breaks from the STAR program to decrease by a maximum of 10 percent, from the present 5 percent.

This is known in state-budget parlance as an "increase in the STAR exemption floor" rather than a tax increase.

- Under a law passed last year, the STAR rebate was supposed to increase this year for middle-class homeowners, but now Spitzer doesn't want to do that. This action will cost homeowners $209 million this year.

- Those who have been escaping the $1.50-per-pack state excise tax on cigarettes by puffing instead on small cigars (known as "cigarellos") would pay more dearly if Spitzer gets his way. This "revenue action" will cost New Yorkers $3.6 million next year.

- That's the same kind of action that will increase money paid to the state by health-maintenance organizations by $250 million.

- An increase in gasoline taxes probably wouldn't be greeted favorably by most New Yorkers who are blanching at paying in most cases well over $3 a gallon. Spitzer isn't doing that - directly. Instead, he wants to combine and streamline some petroleum taxes. The effect will be a $13.2 million increase in state tax collections next year, and almost $56 million annually after that.

- How about making Amazon.com and other Internet-sales firms collect sales taxes on New York purchases? That "loophole closer" will eventually cost New Yorkers $85 million a year.

- Like to drink Colt 45 or Smirnoff Ice? Spitzer has proposed raising the tax on such malt beverages from 11 cents a gallon to $2.54. That hike is supposed to raise $15 million this year.

- He also wants to increase fees on power plants by a total of $11.7 million. And if those fees do find their ways into utility bills (a pretty good bet), they will help to keep New York's utility bills among the highest in the country, but won't count towards the Empire State's highest-in-the-nation combined state and local taxes.

That, and all of these other devices, will help Spitzer perform the apparent alchemy of raising state spending by more than 5 percent (about double the inflation rate) while the state's economy is sinking without, as he says, "raising taxes."

Still, his budget would require New Yorkers to pay about $1.7 billion more in charges to Albany than they're slated to fork over now.


TJN Editorial
 
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