Tonawanda News

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November 4, 2012

State election hopefuls discuss taxing issues

(Continued)

Tonawanda News — Both Maziarz and Ceretto suggested state lawmakers have initiated several key financial reforms under Cuomo's watch and that the state — long known for fiscal irresponsibility —vis doing a better job of controlling its expenses. Maziarz listed pension and Medicaid reform efforts as examples and said, if elected, he'd push to consolidate municipal governments to add to the level of savings statewide.

"In New York state, one of the biggest reasons we have that property tax is the number of levels of government we have overlapping," he said. 

Amy Hope Witryol, the Lewiston Democrat challenging Maziarz in this year's state Senate race, believes more must be done to bring tax relief to Niagara County and other parts of the 62nd District. She said Maziarz — who has been in office for 18 years — could have brought mandate relief to the district sooner but has instead "piled on" more unfunded mandates. She maintains that career politicians like Maziarz have contributed to the larger problem — a bloated state government that has lacked fiscal constraint. 

"We have a state legislature that basically spend decades driving us to the edge of the cliff and now they've spent the past two years waiting for the governor to figure out the solutions," she said. 

Ceretto's opponent, private attorney and Niagara Falls School Board member Robert Restaino, agrees mandate relief is critical to reducing the local tax burden but said "lip service" isn't good enough. 

He said more should be done to eliminate waste in the state system as well. As a former Medicaid fraud investigator for the county, Restaino said he came across many instances in which state funds were being misused — an estimated $3 million alone in Niagara County, according to him. 

Beyond that, he said, the county's tax base must be expanded by making Niagara more attractive to private-sector investment.

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