Assembly Democrats Fail To Protect Localities

The Assembly Minority Conference today offered a Smart Solution to the 2019-2020 State Budget, proposing an amendment to fully restore Aid and Incentives for Municipalities (AIM) funding in the final spending plan. The measure to preserve important funding levels and processes was rejected by the members of the Majority Conference.
 
Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,C-Canandaigua) and his colleagues called out Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislative majorities for eliminating crucial state funding that could potentially harm counties, towns and villages. The process by which state money is administered to localities through the AIM program has been changed dramatically. Rather than being provided directly by the state to the municipality, funding would be taken from county sales tax revenues, creating yet another burden on counties.
 
“The governor and Legislature can scream from the rooftops about Washington’s assault on New York until they are blue in the face, but today, they did the exact same thing to local governments and communities across this state,” said Leader Kolb. “The convoluted shift on how AIM funding reaches localities carries too many questions and unknowns. This failure to hear and accept the pleas from localities from Long Island to Lackawanna, only proves Gov. Cuomo is tone deaf to the needs of local governments and the taxpayers they serve.”
 
Local governments have their annual spending plans in place and are already burdened by adjusting for unfunded mandates while staying under the property tax cap. Programs and services need to be paid for and the potential loss of state resources directly impacts the services a locality can provide. Today’s action could leave localities scrambling to find answers – roads may not get paved, bridge projects delayed, staff may face layoffs and planned upgrades to parks, bridges and equipment may be delayed or eliminated.

“State funds that counties, towns and villages have relied upon for decades should not be used as a political football during budget negotiations, and yet that’s exactly how Gov. Cuomo and the majorities have treated AIM funding,” said Assemblyman Dan Stec (R,C,I-Queensbury). “Local governments already dealing with endless Albany mandates don’t need to see this funding stream threatened. Our localities need to feel certain that these funds are truly restored and not taken from other program areas designed to help communities and taxpayers, and then redistributed as a budget gimmick in the dark of night.”

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