A Mixed Review Of Governor’s 2010-11 Proposed State Budget

A legislative column by Assemblyman Bob Oaks (R,C-Macedon)
January 19, 2010

New York State is in the midst of a struggling economy and facing an enormous deficit of more than $7 billion. The Governor’s budget proposal takes a few small steps toward dealing with both our short-term and long-term fiscal challenges. At the same time, it is not a budget that gets New Yorkers back to work. There are no tax cuts, no easing of regulations on businesses, no easing of energy costs and no direct focus on the upstate economy.

I commend the Governor for listening to ideas to save dollars suggested by the Assembly minority conference and myself. As a result, he proposes: 1) A temporary ban on any new unfunded mandates; 2) A few state agency consolidations; 3) No new state land acquisitions. Although not reducing overall state spending, Governor Paterson’s proposals begin to curb the state’s escalating expenditures. After several years of spending far above the rate of inflation, the Governor would increase spending at 0.6% for 2010-11.

Unfortunately, Governor Paterson couldn’t resist proposing to create $1 billion in new taxes and fees for 2010-11. This comes after adding $8 billion in new taxes and fees in the 2009-10 state budget.

Locally, school districts take a significant hit in reduced school aid, amounting to over $10 million in Wayne County alone. If this proposed funding level is passed as a part of the 2010-11 state budget, it may translate to big cuts in local school budgets, exhausting reserve funds, higher property taxes or a combination of all three. At the same time, it doesn’t give needed property tax relief to struggling taxpayers.

Approximately 80 state workers will lose their jobs as part of the Governor’s plan to close the minimum security prison in Butler in 2011, in spite of successful efforts by the correction officer’s union, Senator Nozzolio and myself last year to keep it open. A Butler minimum security facility closure will have a severe impact on Butler and the surrounding communities.

The Governor’s budget proposal to the legislature begins the difficult process of crafting a responsible budget for the upcoming fiscal year. I will be urging the Governor and fellow legislators to balance New York’s budget by reining in out-of-control spending and not raising taxes. At the same time, we need to protect our children’s future and revive the upstate economy.