It's Your Money: Asking Governor Cuomo your questions

Posted at: 02/21/2013 7:17 PM
By: Ray Levato

Many people have told News10NBC that they feel like the state is nickeling and diming you to death. On Thursday, News10NBC got the chance to take your concerns to Governor Cuomo.

News10NBC has been tracking the governor's budget and the fees that will impact you and your family since he released his proposal last month.

Lawmakers have until April 1 to vote on the plan that could cost you more money.

While the governor was in town promoting his budget, News10NBC asked him about all those extra charges that hit you right in the wallet. It turns out the governor finds those fees and surcharges annoying too, but many of them were put in by prior governors and legislatures and the state has come to rely on that revenue.

The governor laid out his budget priorities and got several standing ovations in Kilbourn Hall at the Eastman School of Music. Afterwards, we got a chance to ask questions about fees and surcharges News10NBC's Ray Levato said, “We've done a series of reports about all the surcharges and fees, some of them kind of hidden to the public, it really touched a nerve with our viewers. And they feel like they're being nickeled and dimed, and they want to know what you're going to do about. You've called for extending some of these in your budget.”

Gov. Cuomo said, “It's not just nickles and dimes, it's dollars. One of the things we've been doing the last few years is reversing this state's tendency to raise taxes at every opportunity, and raise fees in the meantime.”

The governor says under his administration the state has been spending less. And he's closed budget gaps without having to raise taxes.  But fees or taxes, he said the state needs revenue.

Governor Cuomo said, “Fees, license fees, they are annoying. We've also been reducing many of the fees. But at one point the state needs a certain amount of revenue. There are fees and taxes. I know the fees are annoying. But keeping taxes down is very important and whenever we can, we reduce the fees.”

Levato said, “The hospital surcharge. A lot of people don't know about it. It's raising insurance premiums. Is there a way to get rid of that?”

Cuomo said, “It's just money. Whether it's a fee or a tax, its money.”

As we reported Wednesday, that surcharge on hospital bills brings in nearly $5 billion a year.    The two percent surcharge on your RG&E or NYSEG bill, $500 million a year. But in fairness to the governor, he says the middle class is enjoying the lowest income tax rates in 60 years. He could do away with those fees, but he'd have to raise taxes.