Cahill Statement on Passing of State Budget
In January, Governor Spitzer challenged the Legislature to adopt a budget that would dramatically reform education spending and revamp our health care delivery system while at the same time providing expanded children’s health coverage and targeted property tax relief to middle-income families. We have enacted a budget that meets the high standard the Governor put forward while taking good care to protect our existing institutions as they begin to adapt to our new, progressive approach to health care, education and economic development.
We have adopted meaningful school financing reform that signals an end to the days of politically motivated distribution of education funding. Ensuring that each and every child has access to the same excellent education regardless of where they live, how high their family's income is or how much their property is valued, should be our top priority and this budget is a giant leap towards that goal.
While the budget has not gone so far as to eliminate the use of regressive real estate taxes for the purposes of funding education, a proposal that I have been advocating for many years, it provides a huge and necessary increase in state aid and more than doubles property tax rebates moving us that much closer to a solution to the tax crisis that is destabilizing our communities.
The Legislature agreed with the Governor that major steps needed to be taken to reform health care in New York, but we also recognized that reform can’t happen overnight and it was important to keep our safety net of hospitals and nursing homes intact. In the 101st Assembly District alone hospitals were facing about $1.2 million in cuts with 70% of those reductions directed at Benedictine Hospital. The nursing homes in our community would have fared even worse, as they were looking at cuts in excess of $6 million, with the Northeast Center for Special Care and Ferncliff Nursing Home expected to absorb nearly $3.6 million of that total. These cuts would have decimated health care delivery in Ulster County, so I am particularly pleased that we were able to work with the Governor to protect our health care institutions and the well-being of families by restoring much of the proposed cuts while still reigning in Medicaid spending, providing more funding for primary and preventative care and covering all 400,000 of New York’s uninsured children.
Governor Spitzer showed great leadership in putting forth an Executive Budget that focused on addressing the real problems communities in New York State and the Hudson Valley are facing, like the crippling burden of property taxes, the escalating costs of health care, ineffective economic development programs and the inequities of our educational funding system. The Legislature acted and improved on those proposals and worked with the Governor to come to a compromise that will put New York back on the path toward stability and prosperity.