Tag Archives: tax revolt

The Taxpayer Lawsuit Cometh

2 Dec

I wanted to make a joke about hyperbole and Jim Ostrowski, because the two are seldom parted. Ostrowski, the libertarian gadfly, is counsel for a set of plaintiffs who have sued the state of New York over what they term “corporate welfare” – giving tax breaks, incentives, and sometimes outright handouts to private entities to induce them to do business in the state. The plaintiffs in the suit claim that the amount approaches $2 billion. The case is Bordeleau v. State of New York under Albany County Index no. 6258-08.

Tomorrow, Judge Michael Lynch will hear argument on the defendants’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Naturally, a rally will be held on the Capitol steps at noon in support of the lawsuit, and people are being encouraged to travel from throughout the state to attend.

The case documents are available online here, and Ostrowski is posting news about the case here. The plaintiffs claim that the use of state money in aid of private enterprise is violative of the state constitution. If they’re right, they claim that the state can save tens of billions of dollars over the next several years, and “pave the way for the outright repeal of the oppressive New York gas tax of 32.4 cents per gallon.”

That’s all well and good, but I would add that the success of this lawsuit:

1. would set New York even further back, as it would be unable to compete with other jurisdictions for whom incentivization is not illegal; and

2. what does the gas tax have to do with it? When people are asked to list the oppressive or excessive taxes and fees that they pay, the gas tax – which is based on actual consumption – isn’t it. Property taxes are the most onerous statewide, and our income taxes and generalized sales tax is nothing to write home about from Charlotte, either.

So, while the merits of the lawsuit are interesting from an esoteric legal standpoint, I’m pretty sure that the court will dismiss the suit regardless. After all, using Ostrowski’s own theory, they’re all part of the political class, and the courts will kill the case rather than permit the state to be embarassed.