A Dangerous Budget: Politics as Usual During Extraordinary Times

A legislative column by Assemblyman David DiPietro (R,C,I-East Aurora).
April 7, 2020

I wish I could say I was surprised the Majority would propose a budget this bad during a year like this, but they’ve disgusted me once again with their incompetence and radicalism. In the middle of a global pandemic, the governor and his allies have put the desires of special interests and progressive ideologues before the needs of ordinary, working people with this recently passed state budget.

In this time of crisis this budget is more of the same type of lawmaking that our voters have grown tired of during one-party Majority rule: politicians helping politicians. At the same time, we're telling people we need to make hard cuts, do we really see this as a good opportunity to spend $100 million on funding for political campaigns to run advertisements with taxpayer money?! It’s ridiculous, and on top of that this budget still spends $192.5 million on Cuomo’s corrupt economic development programs, the same ones that landed his top aides in jail and still haven’t produced meaningful middle-class job creation after all these years.

To make matters worse, this budget pairs wasteful spending with some of the most heartless and unintelligent cuts I’ve seen during my time in Albany. While putting aside almost $400 million for his political cronies, the governor has cut funding that assists seniors purchasing their prescriptions. It could have been even worse too, if not for the advocacy of me and my fellow Minority politicians in the Legislature, the Majority would have cut funding for the vital Joseph P. Dwyer program that helps veterans connect and face the challenges of PTSD together. I was shocked to see that funding for a program so vital to those who have given so much for us was even on the chopping block, but I was relieved we were able to preserve it against the wishes of the Majority.

All people wanted to see this year was a simple budget that addresses the pandemic without any political shell games that distract from combating the urgent threat we face as a state. What they got was disappointing, if not dangerous, and was yet another instance of our government telling the people that the well-being of the politically connected comes before the health and stability of working families.