Today’s news:

Petition Drive Underway to Fight Proposed New License Plate Requirement

Call it a license to get New York residents to dig a little deeper into their pockets.

Among the proposals put forth recently by New York Governor David Paterson to balance the state’s budget, is one that would hit every single motorist in the state, by requiring vehicle owners to get new license plates, at a cost of $25 per vehicle, beginning April 1, 2010, and continuing for two years, with motorists required to fork over the cash as their registrations expire.

If the proposal — which is part of the governor’s budget deficit reduction plan — goes forward, the fee for new licenses would generate $130 million to go directly into the state’s increasingly hollow coffers.

Absurd, says State Senator Marty Golden -- who blasted the proposed fee as a “new tax scheme,” and who pointed out that it comes on the heels of increases in driver’s license and motor vehicle registration fees that took effect on September 1st.

Contending that residents of his district have already spoken out loudly against the proposal, Golden has set up an on-line petition in opposition to it, which can be accessed at his website, www.golden.nysenate.gov.

The senator’s office has been fielding calls from constituents, said John Quaglione, Golden’s spokesperson. “People called the office to complain who purchased cars this summer as part of Cash for Clunkers,” Quaglione reported. The office has also heard complaints from “people who purchased cars last weekend,” he said, stressing, “It doesn’t matter if you bought your car yesterday, if you got your plates yesterday, if you got your plates three years ago. That fee of $25 would have to be paid by everyone.

“Especially in this economy, no one cares what their license plate looks like,” he added. “It’s another tax.”

Besides the cost to rank-and-file New Yorkers, Golden is also worried about the inconvenience, Quaglione said. He pointed out that, over a two-year period, “You are looking at between five and seven million new license plates being issued. There are probably going to be delays in printing and delivering them, with everyone heading to the Department of Motor Vehicles. It’s going to cause confusion, and longer lines.”

The two-year $5.0 billion deficit reduction plan is the latest effort by Paterson to deal with fallout from the economic slowdown that has hit the state particularly hard. Indeed, according to the governor’s office, in New York, the “recession lasts twice as long as the average national recession. That’s why, even though there are some encouraging signs that the U.S. economy is recovering, state revenues have continued to plummet.

“Based on the Division of the Budget’s latest forecast, the current New York State recession will not end until at least the second half of 2010. Accordingly, there should be little optimism that an unexpected rebound in tax collections will remove the need for responsible actions to close our mid-year budget gap,” the governor’s office said in a press release.

The largest segment of the deficit reduction plan is $3.8 billion in spending cuts over two years, with additional savings and revenue coming from a variety of other sources, including a tax penalty forgiveness program, administrative savings, and changes in the pension structure.

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