Captiol News from The Assembly Minority Conference
The Assembly Minority Conference

Plenty Of Work Ahead As The State Budget Process Begins

Column from Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Executive Budget proposal, delivered earlier this week, sets another record high for state spending. But while spending big, the $227 billion proposal falls short on specific measures designed to reduce our cost of living. To put the plan in context, Gov. Hochul is calling for 50% more in spending than the proposed budget in Florida, yet New York has 2.5 million fewer people.

This year’s budget process needs to result in a final agreement that addresses the root causes of outmigration and a toxic business climate. Hopefully those concerns are alleviated as the process advances during the coming weeks.

As inflation has impacted New Yorkers and talks of a recession loom, we can’t ask families, businesses and localities to pay more than they already are. Especially troubling is the proposed $1.6 billion tax hike, which would come in the form of an extension of the temporary Business Tax Surcharge and an $800 million bump to the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Mobility Tax. The last thing businesses need are more taxes, and that is exactly what they could be facing.

The news isn’t good for property taxpayers, and local governments see the writing on the wall. The Executive Budget proposal intends to shift money away from counties in order to offset growth in the state Medicaid program. Taking nearly $1 billion away from localities will almost certainly result in higher taxes, but at the local level.

Until there are wholesale changes to the criminal justice policies contributing to violent crime plaguing our communities, any talk about supporting law enforcement is mere rhetoric. Police need adequate funding and training, but that must be accompanied by laws designed to protect them and the communities they serve. As the governor begins talks with the Majority leaders in the Senate and Assembly, I hope she stands by her stated commitment to improve public safety.

Additionally, the budget proposal calls for $1 billion to support asylum seekers flooding into our state. While this is largely a complex federal problem, New Yorkers should not be asked to pick up the slack for the nation’s failed immigration policies. A much better solution would be working with the state’s congressional representatives and Biden Administration to address the issue from border to border, rather than throw an enormous sum of money at a band-aid solution here in New York.

There are some promising elements to the governor’s plan, including funding for critical needs like mental health services, public education and childcare. However, there’s a long way to go to achieve a complete, responsible and effective state spending plan. New York does not need to break its own spending record every budget cycle in order to deliver results for the residents of the state. We have several weeks ahead of us as proposals evolve into policies. I am eager to work with my colleagues in the Legislature to create a spending plan that makes sense for all New Yorkers.