Governor Makes Wrong Choices in Budget - Again
Assemblymember Kevin A. Cahill (D- Kingston) said a close analysis shows that the Governor's budget proposal doesn't do nearly enough to address the needs of school districts, health care institutions or the economy in New York State.
"Last year, the Governor proposed $6.7 billion in new taxes, a $2 billion cut to health care and a $1.4 billion cut to education in his Executive Budget, so he would have been hard pressed to come up with something worse this year," Assemblymember Cahill said. "And while this year's proposal is better than last year's, it's still balanced on the backs of working families."
The Assembly Ways and Means Committee's newly-released Statistical and Narrative Summary of the Executive Budget, also known as the Yellow Book, offers details and analysis of the Governor's budget.
Governor's education cuts would undermine schools and hurt our ability to compete
Assemblymember Cahill said that while, for the first time in years, the Governor has not proposed cutting successful Assembly education programs like Universal Pre-K or the reduced class size initiative, the $304 million education cut that the Governor has proposed is unacceptable.
"A cut that size is going to hurt schools in every corner of the state, including here in Ulster and Dutchess Counties," Mr. Cahill said. "It's a little ironic that the Governor says he wants to create jobs and then cuts money to education - the key component of job creation."
Assemblymember Cahill also took the Governor to task for not adequately addressing a court ruling that said New York's education funding system fails to meet the state's moral and constitutional obligation to provide a sound, basic education. The Court set a deadline of July 30, 2004 for the state to implement remedies addressing these outstanding student needs and remitted the case to the Supreme Court for further proceedings.
"We have a moral and legal obligation to provide a sound, basic education to every child in this state but the Governor still hasn't offered a concrete plan to improve schools," Assemblymember Cahill said. "Had he spent more time formulating a reasonable plan and less time dragging his feet, we could be much closer to providing a generation of children the help they need right now."
Pain caused by higher education cuts will be felt by entire state
Assemblymember Cahill said that the Governor's proposed cuts to higher education and opportunity programs would further erode New York's ability to compete for high-tech jobs in the new economy.
"Since he's taken office, the Governor has proposed $2.7 billion in cuts to higher education. As a result, only nine states in the country now spend less than New York," Mr. Cahill said. As higher education costs continue to spiral and as college students face increases in tuition and fees, our own SUNY system's leadership has failed to keep their administration in check. "They already have 49 senior managers who receive annual salaries in excess of $100,000, totaling over $6.5 million, not for professors, classrooms or tuition assistance, but for central administration," Assemblymember Cahill stated.
An entirely cynical part of the Governor's higher education plan, Assemblymember Cahill continued, is call to defer one-third of a student's TAP award until after they graduate. That is bad enough, but in reality, the Governor's proposal is more like a cut, not a deferral.
"Since the Governor's been unable to balance the state's books, he's now forcing students to do it for him," Assemblymember Cahill said. "He knows full well that withholding even a portion of a student's TAP award raises the odds that that student won't be able to afford to continue their education. That's the last thing we need as we try to revive New York's anemic economy."
Governor's health care cuts could mean almost 35,000 lost jobs
The Governor's budget cuts and taxes the health care industry a crippling $1.45 billion, including a $429 million "'sick tax' he wants to impose on hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers. On top of this, the Governor cuts $60 million from Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage plan, threatening access to lower-cost prescription drugs to the elderly.
"The health care industry is the leading employer in New York, and here in Ulster and Dutchess Counties," Assemblymember Cahill said. "Between the 34,600 jobs we'd lose in the industry statewide and the real harm it would do to public health, the Governor's cuts are inexplicable.
"Seniors buying prescriptions, children with disabilities, working families - all of them will see significant cuts," Assemblymember Cahill said. "These cuts would be hard for anyone to take, but these are the most vulnerable people in the state, and the people who can least afford them."
Mr. Cahill also expressed disappointment that the Governor did so little to address the huge burden local governments are forced to bear because of the growing cost of Medicaid.
"The Governor's budget does little to help local governments that are being crushed by Medicaid costs," Assemblymember Cahill said. "Had he not repealed the Assembly's Medicaid takeover plan in 1995, those governments would have saved more than a half-billion dollars."
After promising no new taxes, Governor proposes new taxes
The Governor's budget included tax and fee hikes on everything from parking tickets and live sporting events to home sales and services for children with disabilities - nearly $3.8 billion worth in all.
"The Governor who released this budget couldn't possibly be the same one who kept telling everyone a few weeks ago that he wouldn't propose any new taxes," Assemblymember Cahill said. "New Yorkers are tired of being nickel-and- dimed to death - but the Governor doesn't seem to be getting the message."
Worst of all, Mr. Cahill said, is that the Governor wants to reinstate the state and local sales tax on clothing purchases under $110. That tax hike would cost working families $823 million.
"In a tight economy like this, we shouldn't be asking working families to shell out more and more to send their kids to school in decent clothes. But that's exactly what the Governor wants to do by re-imposing this tax," Assemblymember Cahill said. "This tax hike would disproportionately hurt folks trying to make ends meet."
Once again, the Governor has no real plan to create jobs
Job creation has never been the hallmark of this Governor's tenure, Assemblymember Cahill said, noting that if New York created jobs at the same pace as the rest of the nation during the economic boom of the 1990s, the state would have created almost 432,900 new jobs. He also pointed out that job growth continues to lag behind the rest of the nation in the absence of a comprehensive plan from the Governor.
"For going on ten years now, the state has struggled with the Governor's lack of leadership when it comes to job creation," Mr. Cahill said. "We have the most talented, creative people anywhere, and our economy should be at the top.
"Even worse, the Governor has managed to take a successful Assembly program like Empire Zones, and, through mismanagement and abuse, weaken it completely," Assemblymember Cahill said. "There have been cases where existing employees have been passed off as new hires. We need to get Empire Zones back into the business of helping distressed local economies and creating new jobs, but the modifications the Governor proposes fail to make the kinds of reforms we need."
The Assembly is prepared to push the state forward again
"Last year, in the face of the Governor's draconian budget cuts, the Assembly joined with the Senate to pass a reasonable, bipartisan budget," Assemblymember Cahill said. "Is his budget as bad this year? No. But it still doesn't reflect the needs and priorities of the people of Ulster and Dutchess Counties. I'm not going to stop fighting until we have a budget that does."