Despite the most dysfunctional budget process in recent history, the 2007-08 State Budget has been passed. Negotiated behind closed doors, the budget lacks many of the reforms that were promised last fall. In fact, while it was promised that “on Day 1 there will be no new taxes,” this budget increases taxes by well over $600 million. Additionally, the budget does nothing in terms of lowering our state debt. Now that the details have been released, it is clear why negotiations were kept so secret.
However, there are some good things for Long Island. Originally, our education funding was outlandishly low. Having advocated for substantive increases, I am happy to announce we were able to secure a new $400 million addition to the originally proposed state education aid, for a total of $1.75 billion. Additionally, our property tax rebate checks were re-instated. I am pleased the savings will be going directly into the pockets of homeowners, rather than funneled through the system as previously proposed. Long Islanders should take heed – in order to get your rebates, you must apply (even if you applied last year) by August 15.
In spite of these positives, the budget process this year was shamefully dysfunctional. Things in Albany need to change. The people of our state have entrusted the Governor and the Legislature to represent them, to put the needs of the people ahead of personal agenda. This is what all New Yorkers called for last fall. This, however, is not what was delivered in the last month. This budget process was irresponsible and I am calling upon my rank-and-file colleagues to consider the urgent need to stand up for reforming this process.