Middle Class Must Come First As We Climb Out Of Unprecedented Budget Gap

 For years, a consistent theme of this column has been the importance of sound fiscal management in Albany. Downstate Democrats’ addiction to wasteful spending, bloated government programs and high taxes have chased over one million residents out of state and shuttered countless small businesses in recent years. They’ve consistently blocked Republican efforts to streamline bureaucracy, eliminate failed initiatives and reform social programs, all actions that would allow us to reduce taxes and jumpstart our economy.

However, it’s clear now that not even the governor and his allies in the Legislature can deny the scope of our current fiscal crisis. We’re facing a projected $59 billion revenue shortfall through 2022, a staggering hole that’s greater than the entire Massachusetts state budget. 

While the federal government will likely provide aid to shore up local governments, school districts and small business owners, there’s no way they will be able to bail us out from years of reckless spending and months of economic freefall. Like millions of families across the country, state government is finally going to be forced to do what Republicans have known was necessary all along- tighten our belts, cut waste, and invest in what truly matters.

First, we must eliminate the governor’s corrupt economic development programs that have rewarded his donors with lucrative state contracts but have failed to spark job growth upstate. The Citizen’s Budget Commission has consistently warned that shoddy reporting and a lack of transparency makes it impossible to justify the state’s ever-increasing investment. Eliminating this slush fund would save billions of taxpayer dollars.

One of the most egregious examples of this is the Hollywood Tax Credit, a $450 million corporate giveaway to wealthy media moguls who host lavish fundraisers for the governor.

We must also root out waste, fraud and abuse in the Medicaid program. An Empire Center analysis of a recent U.S. Department of Health and Human Services audit revealed the state could save up to $500 million per year by simply effectively enforcing existing eligibility standards.

And we have to take a hard look at what we have the resources to deliver. It’s impossible to justify free college tuition for illegal immigrants when hardworking families with student loans are struggling to pay their mortgages.

The governor must begin to practice what he preaches. While his own Division of Budget instituted a hiring freeze for all state agencies, the governor went right along hiring pricy political operatives to six-figure salaries in an effort to boost his own media profile. With thousands of families out of work and thousands of businesses shuttered, the governor picked an outrageous time to break his own administration’s rules.

It’s important to make difficult choices so we can protect what counts. We must continue to invest in public safety and provide our law enforcement with the resources they need to secure our communities. We must continue to invest in educating our kids. We must continue to protect our friends and neighbors with developmental disabilities. And we need to help thousands of small business owners get back on their feet and come back stronger than ever.  

What do you think? I want to hear from you. Please send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York state. You may always contact my district office at 315-781-2030 or email me at kolbb@nyassembly.gov

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published this page in LATEST NEWS 2020-12-07 10:40:12 -0500
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