Assemblymember Cahill Reacts to 2004-2005 Executive Budget Proposal

January 20, 2004

"Before the ink was even dry on the Governor’s proposed 2004-2005 budget, I found over a billion dollars in new taxes," stated Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D-Ulster, Dutchess). "The Governor owes it to the people of New York State to either back up his ‘no new taxes’ pledge or to be honest about the new levies," he continued.

Restoration and increases to the ‘sick tax’ on hospitals and nursing homes alone represent over $320 million in new taxes. The proposed elimination of the clothing tax exemption is another $400 million hit on working people in this state. "With new fees and other new taxes, that is an increase of over a billion dollars already," Mr. Cahill noted.

On the program side, once again the Governor proposes to cripple higher education in New York. A return of his plan to cut TAP by a quarter of a billion dollars, to "borrow" this important resource from college students to balance the budget has been rejected before and should be rejected again.

Cuts to the Medicaid program, including co-pays for Family Health Plus services and eliminating vision and dental services for recipients, instituting a Preferred Drug Program (PDP) and restricting access to podiatry and other services for adults, reinstituting the hospital "sick tax" and increasing the nursing home tax from 5% to 6% are but a few of the proposals unveiled today by the Governor. "Last year, he tried to cut Medicaid and health care funding by $2 billion, and this year he’s trying to cut it by $800 million," the Assemblymember noted. "The Assembly will fight these cuts again, as we have in the past, so that New Yorkers will not have to suffer the devastation that this diminishment of services will bring to our neediest."

The Governor also proposes savings in the pension program that had already been declared unconstitutional and fiscally imprudent even before he delivered his budget. One shot revenues, including the ill-conceived conversion of not for profit health insurance companies, are no substitute for sound budgeting.

"The Legislature, once again, has its work cut out. Over the next several weeks, I will join with my colleagues to craft a plan that is balanced, responsive to the needs of the people of the state and provides for quality education, affordable and stable health care and, once and for all, jobs and opportunities for all New Yorkers," Assemblymember Cahill concluded.