Citing a historic debt increase, Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R,C,I-Smithtown) voted to oppose each of the Assembly majority’s budget increases that would add an additional $700 million to Governor Spitzer’s executive budget, which has already been deemed “unsustainable” by new State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. Fitzpatrick’s own amendment, to reduce the state’s out-of-control debt, was voted down by the Assembly Majority.
“It’s clear that our state spends, borrows, and taxes far too much,” said Fitzpatrick. “To stay true to my conservative roots and belief in fiscal responsibility, I must vote against these unwarranted spending increases. I urge my fellow legislators to do the same.”
Currently, state debt stands at $48 billion, and is expected to grow 13.6% in the first two years of the five-year capital plan, the second and third largest annual increases in the past 12 years. According to new State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli state debt would increase to $65.6 billion by 2011-12. School construction debt, funded through state aid, is not accounted for in this figure and would push New York’s debt closer to $77 billion.
The amendment introduced by Fitzpatrick, unanimously supported by the Assembly Minority, would have required that 10 percent of the budget surplus be used to retire the state’s highest-cost debt and increase the Tax Stabilization Fund from two percent to five percent, thereby reducing the need for the state to borrow in the future.
“New York’s debt is significantly higher than the U.S. average, and significantly higher than even our peer states,” said Fitzpatrick. “It’s clear this runaway debt is a symptom of our culture of spending. The time has come to enact fiscal discipline.”
Other amendments introduced by the Assembly Minority Conference that were voted down would have restored targeted business growth incentive tax cuts, let homeowners vote to cap local property tax increases, and tripled STAR benefits. The additional benefits would have been given directly to the homeowner. One of the amendments also would have eliminated funding for the anachronistic Capital Defenders Office, which continues to receive funding even though New York no longer has a death penalty, as decided by the state court of appeals.
“Debt and revolution are inseparable as cause and effect,” remarked Fitzpatrick on the floor of the Assembly, quoting Thomas Jefferson and reiterating his consistent stance against the state’s spending policies.