New York's Budget Mess Is Up To Us To Fix

New York is facing some harsh realities; out-of-control spending, fleeing tax base and toxic business climate— and the only way to fix it is to pass a budget that reflects the needs of the woefully-neglected taxpayers. There is no silver bullet. This isn’t an issue created in Washington D.C. Simply stated, our constituents expect us to craft a budget rooted in improving the quality of their lives. After all, that’s why they have chosen to send us to Albany year after year.
 
Now that both the Assembly and Senate have produced their own, individual spending plans, it is time to officially start hammering out the details of the 2018-19 budget. New York has been headed in the wrong direction for years, and each budget we negotiate is a new opportunity to stop, reverse course and start making New York tax dollars work, again, for the people forced to pony up each paycheck.
 
OUR TOP PRIORITY MUST BE TO MAKE NEW YORK AFFORDABLE
 
Here is the brutal reality facing our taxpayers; New York has the nation’s worst local and state tax burden, 47th worst property taxes, 49th worst economic climate and 2nd highest debt burden. That our great state, with all its resources, natural beauty, and its place as the financial and cultural capital of the world could be falling so woefully short for this long, is beyond my comprehension.
 
Fixing these long-standing problems falls at the feet of the state Legislature and governor. Perhaps one of the reasons New York trails the rest of the country in economic areas is because the budget process has been compromised by political posturing and issues that have absolutely nothing to do with dollars and cents. Voting changes, bail reform and even a measure to require backseat passengers to wear seatbelts have made it into this year’s “budget” conversations.

The Assembly Minority Conference has continually pushed for a number of financially-focused policy measures to correct this unfortunate reality. They include:
 
Reduce Spending and Stick to the Spending Cap (A.5942-A) – While everyone is willing to talk about financial hardships facing the state, no one seems willing to suggest that the state actually tightens its belt and reduces spending. In fact, the Assembly Majority’s plan actually goes over the 2-percent spending cap. We simply cannot continue to spend at this rate. States like Florida, which now has a larger population than New York, have no income tax, and half our budget. We can do better.
 
Property Tax/Mandate Relief (A.9901) – Yet again, budget proposals thus far have no unfunded mandate relief for localities. This is unacceptable. Our Conference Medicaid Restructuring Plan would take over the county share of the program’s costs over 10 years and 50 percent of New York City’s costs over 20 years – saving taxpayers $465 million in the first year alone. Without relieving New York’s unconscionable property taxes, we cannot effectively jump-start the rest of the economy.
 
Economic Development Oversight - New York is wasting billions and billions of dollars every year on economic development programs that don’t work. They don’t create jobs and there isn’t a single shred of data the governor can produce to justify his policies. The corrupt, wasteful programs not only cost taxpayers money, they waste valuable opportunities to use tax dollars for actual, meaningful investments. Our reform package would ensure this broken system is fixed.
 
Invest in Our Infrastructure - Our local roads and bridges are the arteries that feed our state’s economy. Investing in them not only ensures our economy can flourish: it provides jobs and stimulates spending. Too often neglected, we have called for additional funding to the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program. We support the One-House Budget Resolution’s $81 million proposal over the governor’s proposed spending plan. Instead of giving hundreds of millions of dollars to Hollywood elites, let’s fix our roads.
 
What do you think?  I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, email me at kolbb@nyassembly.gov, find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter.

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