On the Budget: Big Spending That Misses the Mark

A Column by Assemblyman Jeff Gallahan (R,C-Manchester)

As with most things in life and in government, there was both good and bad in this year’s state budget but taken as a whole it is incredibly troubling both for the immediate well-being of taxpayers and our future fiscal stability. This year’s $212 billion-dollar budget is the largest in our history, and the second largest in our nation. This state budget is larger than those of the states of Texas and Florida combined, and it is almost as costly as the budget proposed by California for this year, a state that has twice the population as ours.

Considering this is the biggest budget in our history, one would think it would do more for the working people of our state than ever before. Frustratingly, this couldn’t be further from the truth, as this budget has its priorities completely out of order. While increased spending on our roads, schools, libraries and the implementation of a pilot program to lower the hunting age to 12 years old are all aspects of the budget to be celebrated, what is despicable is that the governor has decided to give over $2 billion dollars to illegal immigrants while providing less than half that to our struggling small businesses. These are the same small businesses that hire our neighbors, pay taxes that fund our emergency services and make our communities the special places that we know and love.

Aside from the illegal immigrant bailout, this budget wastes millions on tax breaks for Hollywood movie producers to film in New York and spends millions to fund political campaigns with taxpayer dollars. At the same time this budget includes measures that allow the governor to close prisons within 90 days on a whim, place cuts on mental health beds and fails to provide any new funding for much-needed new OPWDD group homes. This budget leaves many behind and again shows the governor prioritizes those that break the law above hardworking taxpayers.

In a double-whammy blow to our economy, this budget also raises taxes by billions, which will only increase the speed at which people flee our state in search of better opportunities. This terrible flurry of unsustainable spending and burdensome tax increases will cause us to have to make very painful decisions in the future to maintain funding many people and agencies will come to rely on. While the federal bailout we received this year was beneficial, we cannot budget our funds in a way that assumes we’ll have this kind of money every year.

Frivolous spending will be the downfall of our state and a tremendous burden we cast upon our children. I assure you that generations from now our children will not remember us funding a half million dollar study of disparities among screenwriters, but they will remember when the small businesses in their community closed shop and their friends moved so their parents could find work in other states. It’s this year’s failure to prioritize what really matters to everyday people in this state that will be remembered.