Toy Ban Will Be Just The Latest Hidden Tax Passed By Legislators

State legislators are a bit disingenuous when they propose legislation that they say will have “no cost to the state.”

The phrasing pops up regularly on legislation being considered by the Senate and Assembly. Take, for instance, legislation passed earlier this week to ban toys containing certain materials such as toxic flame retardants. To begin with, state regulators would be tasked with compiling a list of potentially harmful chemicals and maintaining public records about the presence of those materials in toys. Then, they would have to administer that list and then ensure that none of the toys with those materials are actually being sold in New York state. That’s a tall order given that the legislation would include toys, car seats, supplies, personal care products, sucking/teething items, jewelry, bedding, furniture and clothes.

What are the fiscal obligations to state and local governments? None.

We’re not buying that bunch of poppycock.

For starters, we’re asking state agencies to pile a massive project onto their desks a mere 180 days after the legislation takes effect. Then there’s a periodic review during which materials can be added or taken off of the list. How can one catalog all of the chemicals in such a wide range of products without there being any cost to the agencies doing the work? That’s right — New York is coming up with a new tax to pay for the bureaucrats’ work. Toy manufacturers will pay a fee as they submit reports under the toy law “to cover the department’s reasonable costs in the administration and enforcement of this title. Exclusive of fines and penalties, the state shall only recover its actual cost of administration and enforcement.”

A cursory glance tells you there’s no cost, but a closer look reveals the truth about how the state will pay for the excess work and staff. How much does the state expect to receive? How many people do they anticipate having to add to do this new work? How much will the fees be? The legislation has been passed, and those questions haven’t been answered. But, Assemblyman Steve Engelbright and Senator Todd Kaminsky, the sponsors of this bill, can sleep well at night knowing there is “no cost to the state.”

There is a cost, we just don’t know how much. And, if you buy toys for your kids, you’ll be paying that cost. It’s likely to be the newest of New York’s hidden taxes, pending Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature.