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State Senate Republicans propose more than $1.3 billion in tax breaks

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ALBANY - On Monday the state’s Senate Republican Conference proposed a package of tax breaks designed to provide an economic boost to the state’s middle class.

The tax cuts would cost upwards of $1.3 billion, and lawmakers said Tuesday how the proposal would be funded remains unclear.

“It was calculated in order to target middle class families,” Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, said of the proposal.

The plan, dubbed the Family Tax Relief Act, includes an increase in the dependent exemption from $1,000 to $2,020 per dependent, an increase in the dependent care credit, an increase in the child tax credit from a maximum of $330 to $375 and the restoration of the School Tax Relief (STAR) rebate check program.

The restoration of the STAR rebates alone would result in an estimated $1.3 billion in tax relief, according to statement by Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome.

STAR rebates were eliminated in 2009.

“This is a pretty big-ticket item,” Mrs. Ritchie said of the tax relief plan, adding that the Republican leadership is “in negotiations right now” about how to pay for it.

“There are a number of issues or places that are being discussed to move some money around inside the budget,” Mrs. Ritchie said. “This has to be agreed upon by all three branches of government.”

Sen. Elizabeth O’C. Little, R-Queensbury, another supporter of the plan, said in an email message, “Higher food and fuel prices, increased federal taxes and loss of or stagnant personal income is making it difficult for many.”

A release by Mrs. Little’s office said a family earning $55,000 with two children would get roughly $1,000 in tax savings. A single parent with one child making $45,000 would see roughly $800 in savings.

Additionally, the STAR rebate would “put an average of $500 back in the pockets of many families. Five hundred dollars is something that’s really tangible,” Mrs. Ritchie said.

The Republican proposal comes in advance of any budget proposals by the state Legislature.

“As negotiations on the budget continue,” Mrs. Little said, “we’re making the argument that helping middle-income taxpayers with some modest tax relief would provide a boost in economic activity across the state.”

The state budget is due on April 1. There was no word Tuesday on whether companion legislation to the Senate Republicans’ proposal would be introduced in the Assembly.

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