The past week in Albany saw a great deal of budget activity. Both houses of the Legislature delivered their one-house budget proposals and Budget Conference Committees began meeting. With all the activity, we must remember that many questions remain before a final budget agreement is reached and nothing is more indicative of the work left to do than the Assembly Majority’s costly budget proposal.
The Majority’s proposal would increase taxes and spending, while failing to address skyrocketing property taxes, critical mandate relief, and Medicaid cost growth. In their proposal, spending would total $133 billion, a half-billion more than Governor Cuomo’s budget. The Majority has also proposed approximately $5 billion in new taxes to cover their irresponsible spending increases. They also included a new $170 million assessment on hospitals for obstetric care, dubbed the “Baby Tax.”
Another tax-and-spend budget would be detrimental to New York’s financial future. We can no longer afford to spend beyond our means, and this budget fits right in with that fairytale. This year, we need a budget that makes difficult, but measured cuts and that deals with some of the state’s most regressive policies and onerous cost drivers. We must address mandate relief in a comprehensive and meaningful way to take the pressure off our local governments. A property tax cap must be passed to alleviate the burden placed on homeowners throughout the state. Finally, we must cap growth and fix our broken Medicaid system that is costing an estimated $1 billion a week to maintain.
It is not all bad news though as the process seems to be working toward a final budget earlier and quicker than in recent memory. Legally required Budget Conference Committees are being held and the subcommittees have even met to discuss the details of key policy areas. These are hopeful signs that the Legislature and the governor are both committed to an on-time budget. Timeliness is important; however, I am more concerned that the budget fosters job growth and helps taxpayers.