My Thoughts On Final Passage Of The 2017-18 State Budget

“After an inexcusable delay, Albany has arrived at a 2017-18 State Budget. The entire process has been rife with dysfunction and clearly demonstrates the system is broken. In addition to being a week late, the 2017-18 spending plan was preceded by a ridiculous extender, unnecessary public posturing, and endless closed-door negotiations.
 
It’s the Legislature and governor’s job to deliver an on-time budget. The failure to do so has real-life impacts on the people of this state. How many families nearly bounced a check because the state payroll was delayed? How many schools were forced to operate in limbo because education aid was unavailable? How many healthcare services were threatened by the potential inability of caregivers to receive a paycheck?
 
If a homeowner or small-business owner fails to pay taxes, New York State responds with fines and penalties. But when Albany fails to meet its most basic obligation in a timely manner, there are no consequences, just excuses.
 
New Yorkers suffer under the worst tax burden in the country. Today, we passed a financial plan that does little to solve our most-pressing financial problem. There are a number of questionable measures that fail to move New York forward.

  • Taxpayer dollars continue to be directed toward scandal-ridden economic development programs without any comprehensive reforms to the system.
     
  • Hundreds of millions in discretionary funding has been set aside despite the absence of any clearly-defined purpose, direction or use.
     
  • We make no increase to library aid or infrastructure funding to repair roads and bridges, but will spend $200 million on a statewide nature trail.
     
  • The budget hands out tax breaks for union membership, but does little for the state’s over-taxed and over-regulated small businesses.
     
  • Instead of ending unfunded mandates to reduce property taxes, the state will require counties to conduct a redundant shared-service reporting exercise that is unlikely to produce any substantial results.
     
  • Once again, Albany failed to seriously consider, let alone pass, meaningful ethics reform. 

The final agreement does include measures for which the Assembly Minority Conference has actively advocated. I’m extremely proud of the unwavering commitment our members have shown to the concerns of their communities. 

  • Direct-care workers will receive a two-year commitment of $55 million so they can receive competitive salaries.
     
  • Ride-sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, will finally be able to operate in communities outside of New York City.
     
  • Our schools will be bolstered by $25.2 billion in total aid, nearly $1 billion more than last year, which includes an increase in Foundation Aid of $700 million.
     
  • Employers will begin to see an overdue reduction in expenses through the enactment of Workers’ Compensation reforms.
     
  • Clean water projects across the state can move forward with a $2.5 billion fund dedicated to improving and protecting New York’s water infrastructure.

With the budget finally behind us, we can look toward our work during the remainder of the legislative session. We must enact common-sense policies that move our state in a positive direction and improve the lives of those we represent.”

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