I believe strongly that one of my main responsibilities as your Assemblyman is to make sure that our state government is spending your hard-earned tax money in responsible and efficient ways. With property taxes gripping Western New York families and a Medicaid system that costs New Yorkers almost $5 billion annually in unrecovered fraud, we, as legislators, owe it to the people of this state to make practical choices with how state money is budgeted.
In this year’s budget, I supported nearly a half billion dollars in spending reductions, money that is pegged for unnecessary projects that have no bearing on the vitality of this state, let alone Western New York. If we are going to deliver real property tax relief and make positive changes to the Medicaid system then the state needs to make better choices as to how and where it spends your money. Little economic relief would come from proposed property tax refunds if the state continues to tax and spend the way it does.
I want to share with you some of the items I did not support because you deserve to know how some legislators believe your money ought to be spent. For starters, I supported the Governor’s veto for the elimination of $5.5 million dollars to the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center and another $5.5 million for the Old Gore Mountain Ski Bowl Connection. While I do enjoy skiing on New York’s many beautiful mountains, I am certain that the $11 million is not going to help this state deliver real property tax relief or make our schools better. Examples such as these represent a pattern of egregious spending habits that do nothing but drive state debt higher because of zero accountability and no long-term vision for this state’s fiscal health.
Every year the budget features numerous line items with appealingly spun titles so as to limit questions asked by you and me about how and where the money is being spent. In order for this state to begin to rein in out of control spending habits, questions need to be asked, which is why I voted to support the Governor’s veto on a $200 million “Community Projects Fund.” Without full disclosure and more transparency in our budget process, especially when it comes to these types of projects, I will be reluctant to support them. When you invest your own money, you expect to have complete details about how it is being invested; the same should apply in the state budget process.
I believe that sound budget decision-making is crucial to the health and stability of New York state. As your elected representative, my role is to make sure you are getting the most out of your tax dollars and at the same time, I strive to be fiscally responsible on behalf of the state as a whole, so that the tax burden on you can be lessened.