Some In Albany Still Miss The Point As Budget Crisis Still Looms Over Capital
Legislative Column From Assemblyman Marc W. Butler (R,C,I-Newport)
March 22, 2011
There is a delicate balance with which leaders in Albany must maintain when weighing competing interests and enacting a budget that doesn’t further deplete the savings of our New Yorkers and force the closure of small businesses. Some of my colleagues and I in the Legislature understand the importance of developing a budget that addresses the state’s $10 billion deficit. The budget process began with Governor Cuomo’s proposal, and last week the senate and assembly introduced their versions of the budget. When presented with the assembly majority’s spending plan, I had no choice but to oppose the resolution. The seriousness of our finances is not lost with the governor, senate or my fellow Assembly Minority colleagues, but somehow the Assembly Majority managed to increase spending over the governor’s proposal by a half-billion dollars – money New York simply does not have. The governor and state senate are seeking to close our current deficit without overburdening our hardworking taxpayers. However, the Assembly Majority’s immediate reaction to a financial crunch is to raise taxes by nearly $5 billion, adding to the $10 billion in tax increases over the past two years. The state’s financial problems do not lie in weakened revenue streams, but with overabundant spending habits it has created over decades. New Yorkers cannot keep footing the bill. Disconcertingly, the Assembly Majority is willing to tax the success and birth of new Yorkers. They wish to extend the ‘success tax’, which has driven away many of our businesses and manufacturers to other states. Even more reckless is their proposed $170 million ‘baby tax,’ which would tax hospitals that offer delivery and care services to mothers and newborns. Some in Albany are literally willing to tax New Yorkers from birth to death rather than curb runaway spending habits. Further highlighting their detachment from the plight of New York taxpayers was the Assembly Majority’s blatant refusal to include any of the unfunded mandate relief recommendations issued by the governor’s mandate relief redesign team. Their budget plan offers no unfunded mandate relief to local governments or measures that would lessen the burden on property taxpayers. Without such reforms, families and small business owners will have no choice but to leave New York. Upstate interests are continually ignored and sidestepped. Both the governor and Assembly Majority’s cuts are aimed at Upstate, especially noticeable in school aid funding. Upstate pupils represent 45 percent of total state student population and yet the unfair school aid formula forces 52 percent of the cuts on Upstate students, while well-funded New York City schools remain protected. If we all must make sacrifices, why is it that upstate New York takes more than its fair share of the pain? What I witnessed in Albany was yet another missed opportunity to instill reform and better budgeting. Ten complex spending measures were lumped together in a mass budget resolution circumventing input from rank-and-file members across both sides of the aisle. Worse still was the lack of a financial plan – line-by-line spending – giving us little indication of what their budget truly entailed. As it stands now, our state’s projected outstanding debt is roughly $58 billion, while already $2,798 is owed by you, me and every New Yorker. How bad do things need to be before things are changed? I will continue to fight for better fiscal practices in Albany so we don’t borrow and spend away the future of all New Yorkers. As always, if you have any questions or comments about the state budget, local economy or any state issue, please don’t hesitate to contact me by calling my Johnstown office at (518) 762-6486, my Herkimer office at (315) 866-1632, or by emailing me at email@example.com.