New York State's Economy Was Vulnerable Before COVID-19

State Democrats blaming Washington for our economic troubles is nothing new. (President Trump cut taxes for about 80% of all New Yorkers, and the governor called it an “economic missile.”) It’s still troubling. While I agree with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle that our local governments, hospitals, schools and small businesses need more help from Washington, I disagree with their notion that our economic crisis began with the COVID-19 outbreak and ends with a tidy bailout. Years of senseless spending, reckless deficits and misguided budget priorities made our state particularly vulnerable to any economic downturn, let alone a massive crisis.

Years ago, the comptroller flagged our state’s lagging commitment to boosting our financial reserves, the resources you can turn to during an emergency. The Tax Foundation measures a state’s rainy-day fund as a percentage of its yearly expenditures. Wyoming ranks first, with 106%. New York ranks 44th, at a dismal 3.2%.

Why doesn’t state government have a robust fund for a rainy day? It’s certainly not for a lack of tax revenue. In fact, New York state’s crippling tax and regulatory burden produces the 49th-ranked business climate in the country. We also face among the highest sales taxes, property taxes and personal tax burdens in the entire nation. During the governor’s tenure, 1.4 million New Yorkers have voted against his disastrous economic policies with their feet- they’ve sought lower taxes, more exciting opportunities and more affordability by moving elsewhere.

The answer is years of upside-down budget priorities. Billions wasted on corrupt, ineffective economic development programs that failed to deliver jobs to the middle class and landed the governor’s top advisors in prison. Billions of overspending in the mismanaged Medicaid program. Hundreds of millions wasted on handouts for Hollywood Film studios and taxpayer-funded political campaigns.

The COVID-19 crisis created devastating, new problems for New Yorkers. It also exposed plenty of old ones. It’s true we need more help from Washington to get through this crisis. It’s also true that, moving forward, New Yorkers deserve a state government that lives within it’s means, cuts wasteful spending and saves money for a rainy day.

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, or find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook. 

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