By Haley Viccaro, Albany Bureau
ALBANY -- Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb is proposing to create a state natural disaster relief fund to help families impacted by Superstorm Sandy and prepare for future disasters.
The New York State Natural Disaster Relief Fund would give people the choice to pay a tax-deductible donation through a voluntary check-off fund on state income tax returns for natural disaster relief, said Kolb, a Republican from Canandaigua, Ontario County.
"My proposed New York State Natural Disaster Relief Fund, maintained by the state Department of Taxation and Finance and the state Comptroller, would allow personal and corporate taxpayers to contribute by checking a box on their state income tax returns," Kolb said in a statement.
The eight funds on income tax forms that people can contribute to currently include Return a Gift to Wildlife, Lake Placid Olympic Training Center Fund, Breast Cancer Research and Education Fund, Missing & Exploited Children Clearinghouse Fund, Alzheimer's Disease Fund, Prostate Cancer Research Fund, World Trade Center Memorial Foundation Fund and Volunteer Firefighting & EMS Recruitment and Retention Fund.
Creating a New York State Natural Disaster Relief Fund is one more way to ensure that families and communities impacted by natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy have additional financial resources to get back on their feet as quickly as possible.
Kolb said he hopes to convince lawmakers in the majority in the Assembly and Senate to back the legislation. The legislative session begins Jan. 9.
"It's not pride of ownership, it's the pride of the idea. Hopefully, we can get some majority members behind this," Kolb said in an interview.
Over the past five years, taxpayers contributed more than $10 million to the funds, Kolb said. He said 28,000 taxpayers made voluntary contributions of $488,878 to the Breast Cancer Research and Education Fund in 2011, and it has collected more than $8.5 million since it started in 1996.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo was in Washington on Monday to lobby for $42 billion in aid after Superstorm Sandy. Cuomo said the storm has been the worst natural disaster in terms of the impact on homes and businesses in New York, and he warned that the state needs to rebuild to better prepare for future storms.
"Let's compromise, let's come together and let's move the country forward," Cuomo said Nov. 28 during his visit to Rome, "and that's what I think should happen and I believe will happen."