The Legislature has passed a budget that once again was negotiated behind closed doors. To make matters worse, the budget was negotiated between the three legislative leaders who are all New York City Majority members. When Governor Paterson took office he promised to conduct a budget process that was transparent and fair to all areas of the state; unfortunately, he did not keep that promise, and now we know why.
This budget is riddled with $7 billion in increased taxes and fees, reckless spending and cuts to programs that are vital to their communities. I disagree with the cuts to healthcare that will make it more difficult for hospitals and nursing homes to provide quality patient care. Our own Southampton hospital is slated to lose $435,000 in funding, which will negatively affect the quality of care Suffolk County residents receive. Additionally, in recent years we have been able to deliver record aid to our schools and this all but negates the progress that we have made.
I am also disappointed that legislative leaders have agreed to eliminate the property tax rebate check program, which is essential in helping middle-class families offset the rising costs of property taxes. To add fuel to the fire, a property tax relief was not included in the state budget, leaving homeowners, once again, forced to shoulder the growing financial burdens being placed in local municipalities.
In spite of the few beneficial parts of the budget, I could not, in good conscience, support this fiscal plan. It is a budget with out-of-control spending, too much debt and projected revenue shortages. It is likely the Legislature will need to reconvene later this year to address a potential lack in revenue.