Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush (R,C-Black River) today outlined his priorities for the remainder of the legislative session now that the budget has been passed and signed into law. The assemblyman noted that many important steps were taken in the budget, such as increased economic and agricultural investment, a self-imposed spending cap and the beginnings of mandate relief with the state’s takeover of Medicaid cost growth. Blankenbush, however, says that key policies must be adopted to ensure real job growth, permanent fiscal restraint and lasting mandate relief.
“We’ve made some important strides in the budget this year, but statewide policy needs to catch up,” said Blankenbush. “If we want to see aggressive job and economic recovery, we need to repeal taxes, fees, fines and the layers of red tape that hinder job creators in the first place. If we want to be responsible to our taxpayers, why not enact a permanent two percent spending cap like the one that was successfully self-imposed in this year’s budget. Finally, Albany must admit that unfunded mandates aren’t working for anyone – the taxpayers, local governments and those who rely on the services provided by these entities. Albany must not only remove existing unfunded mandates, but also stop imposing them on localities once and for all.”
Blankenbush fought for and voted in favor of significant investments like $4.6 billion to fix crumbling roads and bridges, $800 million in economic development programs, and over $21 million in agricultural programs. The assemblyman noted that New York, being one of the least business-friendly states in the nation, must do more to lift the burdens on job creators. A number of pro-job growth amendments to the budget were offered last week, only to be rejected by the Assembly majority. Blankenbush has vowed to keep fighting for the Small Business Relief Act, a tax reduction for manufacturers and elimination of the Unemployment Insurance Assessment on employers.
Notably, the 2012-13 State Budget actually spends less in All Funds than last year, which Blankenbush cites as a clear indication that New York may be on its way to better fiscal restraint. The assemblyman, however, does not wish to leave this to chance and has pledged to fight for a permanent two percent spending cap so that legislators won’t be tempted to increase spending to unsustainable levels.
Lastly, Assemblyman Blankenbush called for an immediate moratorium on and removal of unfunded mandates on local governments. The state’s takeover of growing Medicaid costs was an important step, but there are many more costly edicts imposed on local governments and schools that drive up property taxes and must be addressed before the Legislative Session ends in June.