Assemblymember Steck’s Statement on the Final Budget

“We need a budget that will provide meaningful relief to the middle class and make historic investments in our infrastructure to move us towards a fossil free economy. Sadly, this budget does not deliver on standing with working people and addressing the climate emergency.

“Revenue drives everything in the budget. It drives how much we pay people who provide direct care to the disabled and elderly, whether we can hire more state workers to provide mental health services to people who have co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders, whether we can provide transitional living to people who were hospitalized for reasons of mental health who are not yet ready for purely outpatient care, and it drives whether we can avoid unemployment surcharges on businesses for a workforce crisis that was caused by an unexpected virus.

"Lastly, it drives whether we can build the infrastructure to support a fossil fuel free economy and whether we can protect our constituents from the costs of converting to a fossil fuel free economy.

“When FDR was Governor of New York State, he previewed many of the policies that would later become part of the New Deal.  Similarly, we need to look to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and rural electrification, two of the most famous New Deal achievements, for inspiration. We can build electric infrastructure across the state so we can transition away from fossil fuels.

“Instead, we are expanding tax incentives to Hollywood producers by nearly 70% and showering millionaires and billionaires with as much as $7.7 billion in tax credits over the next 11 years. While the middle class is having a hard time paying their bills, and obtaining affordable housing, film and TV productions will be able to claim a portion of actor, director, writer, and composer salaries toward the credit. The budget will also provide tax credits for multi-billion-dollar corporations such as Amazon and Starbucks but will not restore a five-cent tax on the sale of stocks and bonds, leaving multibillionaire e-traders sales tax free.

“Despite my strong opposition to the revenue portion of the New York State Budget, I am extremely pleased that every school district in the 110th Assembly District will see at least a 16.5% increase in the Foundation Aid from the state. Additionally, every school district will receive at least the same amount of money, if not more than they received last year for universal pre-K.

“When the Governor unveiled her Executive Budget Proposal, I immediately spoke out against the 30% increase in tuition for in-state students at SUNY Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, and Stony Brook’s research facilities. I am very happy this proposal did not make it in the final budget. To ensure that we will not need to raise tuition in the years to come, the budget will increase operating aid for SUNY and CUNY in the 2024-2025 and 2025-2026 academic years. SUNY and CUNY are the universities for the middle class, and we cannot raise tuition as if they were privately owned.

“While the Assembly did an outstanding job negotiating the many details of this budget, such as defeating the tuition increase, as a member, I have a duty to express my disagreement with the philosophy underlying the revenue bill. I must advocate for change. It is my belief that this budget does not deliver on all the urgent needs of my constituents nor make adequate investments to fight the climate crisis.