Taxes? Fees? More Taxes And Fees?

What better time than the dog days of August for New York government to roll out an online vote for New Yorkers to choose the state’s next license plate design.

Yes, you read that right. As a New Yorker, you have been granted an opportunity to “Vote for Your Favorite New York State License Plate.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo proclaimed, “License plates are a symbol of who we are as a state and New Yorkers should have a voice and a vote in its final design… I encourage all residents to take part in choosing this piece of our state’s history.”

State Motor Vehicles Commissioner Mark Schroeder reasoned, “The time has come for New York to have a new license plate, which is why we worked hard to create design options that not only capture the heart of the Empire State, but also that our customers will be proud to put on their vehicles. I hope everyone across the state will take a few minutes to view the options and vote for their top pick.”

Of course, what’s really going on is that the state is launching a 10-year license plate replacement program that will require, starting next April, millions of motorists to begin ponying up $25 for new license plates. Want to keep your current plate number? That’ll cost you an additional $20.

As Rochester political commentator Bob Lonsberry recently wrote, “Would you prefer to be stabbed by a red knife, a blue knife, or a green knife?”

It’s expected to generate at least another $75 million or so for the state’s coffers. According to the governor’s announcement, “Beginning April 2020, through the plate replacement program, as customers renew their vehicle registrations over the next two years, those with license plates that are 10-years-old or older will be issued new plates. The current $25 license plate replacement fee will be added to the cost of the vehicle owner’s registration renewal. Customers may also keep their current license plate number for an additional $20 fee.”

In other words, the just-launched online voting “opportunity” is, plain and simple, Albanyspeak for, “We’re giving you a chance to tell us what tax hike looks best.”

On it goes in New York.

Back in April, my reaction to the new state budget was that Governor Cuomo and the Legislature’s new Democratic, all-downstate, extreme-liberal majorities welcomed back tax-and-spend government that’s bad news for taxpayers, job creators, and workers. The 2019-20 budget relies on more than $1 billion in new taxes and fees to support significant new short- and long-term state spending, including a new sales tax on internet purchases.

Keep in mind that the budget also set in motion new state spending commitments that will become increasingly expensive, including a system of public campaign financing, electoral reforms like early voting, a Green New Deal, college tuition assistance for illegal immigrants, and others.

Combine new state spending commitments and fiscal storm clouds on the horizon, and you get the need for more state revenue. You get a license plate replacement program, for example. Brilliant.

What’s next? I have no doubt that New York State’s current team of New York City, extreme-liberal leaders will be tempted, as always, to turn where they’ve always turned to deal with fiscal trouble: higher state taxes and fees. New York’s Democrat leaders always prove that when the going gets tough, they go looking for a new tax.

Mandating new license plates highlights just the beginning, I’m afraid, of the tax-and-fee madness to come.

But don’t forget to vote.

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