Senate chief shuns fee increases
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By Yancey Roy, Albany Bureau, (February 4, 2004)
      Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno said many of the $1.1 billion in fees and tax increases proposed by Gov. George Pataki might prove unnecessary. That’s because the improving stock market could lower New York’s budget gap to $4 billion instead of an estimated $5 billion by March 31, the end of the fiscal year.
      Pataki has proposed a slew of fee increases, from snowmobile and all-terrain vehicle permits to alcoholic-beverage licenses to civil-service exam costs. People would pay $2.25 apiece for the privilege of disposing of old tires.
     The leader of the state Assembly has criticized the fee proposals.
     Bruno went further, singling out the handgun fee as unnecessary.
     Under Pataki’s plan, pistol owners would have to pay a $100 fee and renew their license every five years. Currently, a gun owner has to qualify only once.
     “That hits over a million upstaters annually,” said Bruno, R-Brunswick, Rensselaer County. “They’re law-abiding citizens. They’ve qualified for the license, which is hard to do. And I’m not sure we should be escalating the costs.”