COLUMN: Budget ‘robs Peter to pay Paul’

— There were other changes brought by the budget I wanted to make you aware of.

Gun law changes

The state passed the SAFE Act earlier this year. I voted against it, as it did little to make our communities safer and, instead, penalized law-abiding citizens and caused confusion. We made ourselves known on Feb. 28, as thousands gathered in Albany to rally against the bill. Unfortunately, the law will not be repealed in the near future. There are lawsuits pending, which question whether the law infringes on Constitutional rights. For now, these were the marginal changes that were made with the budget, which allocates $27 million just for a pistol permit database:

Suspend the requirement that only magazines that can contain seven rounds or less can be purchased. Going forward, magazines can be purchased that can contain up to 10 rounds. Magazines may only contain up to seven rounds regardless of their capacity, unless you are at an incorporated firing range or competition, in which case you may load your magazine to its full capacity.

Active law enforcement continues to be exempt from the prohibitions on the possession of high capacity magazines, assault weapons and magazines containing more than seven rounds, as well as the law prohibiting weapons on school grounds.

Ensuring that local safe storage laws are not preempted by the SAFE Act. For instance, if localities have previously developed firearm storage laws, the SAFE Act would not supersede local laws related to firearm storage.

Basic STAR exemption changes

Beginning in 2014, people with Basic STAR exemption – the state’s School Tax Relief program – will have to reapply. This budget puts the State Department of Tax and Finance in charge of applications, rather than having people apply at their local assessors’ office. Primarily, this change was made to prevent fraud. There were several cases in which property owners, who owned property in two different municipalities, applied for the STAR exemption for more than one property. The STAR rebate is only intended to be used for the property owners’ primary residence. The state is expected to mail out letters to notify all residents who are currently enrolled in the Basic STAR program. For those with Enhanced STAR, seniors apply annually and must meet certain income requirements. That process will not change. Only those with Basic STAR will be affected.

I’ve said it before and will continue to say this: Albany does not have a revenue problem. We have a spending problem. Until we start to look at ways where we can consolidate programs and further save taxpayer dollars, we will continue to have gaps and our leaders will continue to look for dollars to fill those gaps.

Assemblyman Will Barclay represents residents of Assembly District 120, which includes Lysander. He can be reached by mail at 200 North Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or by phone (598-5185).

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