Assemblyman Dinowitz Speaks on State Budget at Wakefield Meeting

April 21, 2006

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz was the featured speaker at the Wakefield Taxpayer’s Meeting on April 20th. He focused on the recently passed (on-time) state budget, with an emphasis on taxes, health care and education. A major theme of his address was the different budget priorities between Governor Pataki and the Legislature. “The Governor wanted to slash health care, education, and keep the state sales tax in place, all so he could give more tax cuts to people who don’t need them,” said Assemblyman Dinowitz. “We in the Assembly stopped him, and we will continue to stop him.”

Assemblyman Dinowitz criticized Pataki’s proposed health care budget, which would have cut a billion dollars from the state medicaid budget. “These cuts wouldn’t have just hurt poor people,” said Assemblyman Dinowitz. ”Our local hospitals like Lady of Mercy, Montefiore, and North Central Bronx Hospital rely on Medicaid money to function. Huge medicaid cuts would mean fewer nurses and less health care for everybody, and the Legislature wisely rejected them.”

Similarly, Dinowitz was pleased that the Legislature restored funding to higher education. Assemblyman Dinowitz said, “Every year he’s been in office, Governor Pataki has tried to block access to higher education through cuts to the TAP program and cuts to CUNY and SUNY. Once again we in the Assembly made sure that our children have a chance to go to college.”

Assemblyman Dinowitz pointed to the Governor’s tax policy as a good example of his misplaced priorities. “The Governor fought to keep the state sales tax on clothing under $110 in place,” said Assemblyman Dinowitz, “even though the burden falls mainly on poor and middle class people, despite the fact that it was set to expire. Apparently the Governor thinks driving consumers to other states is a good idea if it means he can eliminate an estate tax affecting only millionaires. We in the Assembly rejected this proposal, and made sure that the sales tax expired.”

Assemblyman Dinowitz took pride in the Legislature’s new funding for schools. Assemblyman Dinowitz said, “We’re trying to comply with the Campaign for Fiscal Equity decision by providing billions in new school construction. It’s impossible to reduce class sizes without new classrooms. We don’t have space for all the children we have now, much less for the many more kids expected over the next decade. The Governor is dead wrong when he says that an 8th grade education is good enough for our kids.”

Assemblyman Dinowitz concluded by warning that the budget fight isn’t over, stating “The Governor has issued 202 vetoes. I’m confident we’ll be successful in overriding them, but it’s possible that the Governor will then go to court. He’s determined to gut education and health care in this state, and we’re just as determined to improve them.”