“Gov. Hochul said her budget would provide a safer, more affordable, more livable New York in the upcoming year. While this is a nice slogan, the details of her budget couldn’t be anything farther from that. The governor’s budget proposal sets a new, record-high of $227 billion spending plan, a tone-deaf total that we must bring down and get under control during budget negotiations in the Legislature.
“Our state’s financial realities are grim. Just yesterday, the state comptroller reported that New York’s total debt could jump by 42% or $2.5 billion by 2027.This news comes as many financial forecasters predict a recession in the near future. The taxpayer cannot be on the hook for $227 billion in spending this year alone, a total exponentially higher than the budgets of bigger states like Texas and Florida.
“The governor and Assembly and Senate Majority is also pushing a radical energy plan that has failed to answer our critical questions and concerns about cost and reliability impacts on New York families and businesses. As a matter of fact, the ‘Scoping Plan’ put forth by the Climate Action Council, that Gov. Hochul supports, is estimated to cost each homeowner over $35,000 to retrofit and fully electrify their homes for heating, cooking, hot water and clothes drying to meet the mandates of the plan. In addition to extreme cost, the plan puts the reliability of our state’s entire energy grid at risk of power blackouts from these unproven energy sources.“The highest taxes and worst business climate in the nation coupled with crippling inflation, rising and uncontrolled spending, debt, and a costly, unaffordable and unreliable energy plan will decimate our state’s economy and quality of life. This will, in turn, continue the exodus of more New York families, farmers, small businesses and manufacturers from our state.
“The affordability of New York, or lack thereof, is undoubtedly contributing to the continued exodus of our residents. Tragically, we lost 500,000 of our friends and neighbors in the last two years as they sought out better options in more affordable states. Another reason people are leaving is because crime continues to skyrocket in all of our major cities, and also in our rural communities. The governor has pledged to make ‘tweaks’ to bail reform this budgetary process. If she wishes to tie criminal justice policy into this budget process, then we must be far bolder than just making ‘tweaks.’ We can start by joining the country’s 49 other states and immediately return judicial discretion to our courtrooms so our highly qualified and elected judges can make determinations on the level of danger a criminal poses to the community in setting bail. We should increase accountability with the parole board to require a unanimous vote by the commissioners when granting a prisoner early release and allow a majority of the Legislature to remove any commissioner who makes continued reckless decisions regarding early release of murderers, child rapists and cop killers.It is long past due for New York to put the needs of public safety, crime victims and their family and law enforcement ahead of the needs and wants of dangerous and violent criminals.
“There are a number of other priorities we must address during budget negotiations this year. Small businesses were crushed during the COVID-19 lockdowns, with many forced to shut their doors for good. Those who stayed afloat are still recovering. We must provide them with unemployment debt relief as they have been forced to shoulder the burden and pay surcharges and massive unemployment insurance bills to make up for the borrowed debt and the unprecedented unemployment fraud that happened under this administration’s watch. Another way we can help these small businesses is by providing bold, broad and aggressive tax, regulatory relief and unfunded mandate relief. The governor touted not raising taxes this year, but we can do so much better. Let’s slash taxes and remove the red tape that has only slowed the recovery of our small businesses.
“As an added insult to local property taxpayers, Gov. Hochul, who claims to understand the needs of local governments, is proposing to withhold almost $1 billion in Enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Program (eFMAP) funding. The federal funding, created in 2020, was intended to go directly to local governments to assist and offset their local share of Medicaid costs that negatively impact local real property taxes.
“The governor spoke at length about making improvements to the MTA system downstate, which is important. With this said, our upstate infrastructure, in particular funding for our local roads, bridges and culverts through important programs like the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS), is of equal importance. Our local infrastructure is the lifeblood of our upstate transportation network and in constant need of update and repair. Through critical investments like CHIPS we will help spur economic development, increase safety and ensure that upstate taxpayers see a return of their state tax dollars back into their local community.
“Another area I have focused on for years and will continue to advocate for is funding for New York’s most vulnerable population—the developmentally disabled. This important community and the dedicated direct-support professionals tasked with improving their quality of care and quality life are still recovering from COVID-19. We must make sure their programs, services, and ultimately, their quality of life are a top priority in this year’s state budget. Budgeting is about priorities and if we are not caring for our most vulnerable citizens, like the developmentally disabled, then what does that say about us as a state.
“Once again, I call on the governor and legislative majorities to recognize the severity of the affordability, public safety and quality-of-life crises facing our state that continue to drive New Yorkers away. I look forward to the upcoming budget hearings to thoroughly review, examine these proposals, and hear directly from members of the governor’s administration and community stakeholders. It is my hope we can work in a bipartisan manner to actually produce a budget that will truly make New York safer, more affordable and more livable for our seniors, families, farmers, small businesses and manufacturers.”