OPINION

MY TURN: Assemblyman Palmesano: 'We cannot adopt another bloated state budget'

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano

The governor’s $216.3 billion Executive Budget is just the beginning of this process, and I look forward to the upcoming legislative budget hearings to more closely examine the proposal and get more specific details and answers regarding the governor’s spending priorities.

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano

One thing is for certain, we cannot adopt another bloated state budget like was advanced last year by Albany Democrats with their tax-and-spend policies. As inflation continues to take its toll on everything from gas and groceries to energy prices, and the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on our small businesses, this budget must address the everyday strain, concerns and needs of our state’s families, farmers, small businesses and manufacturers to help our state’s recovery by revitalizing our economy. Inflation is at the top of everyone’s minds right now, which is why the "Inflation Relief and Consumer Assistance Plan" (A.8481) is such a key piece of legislation at this time that will help provide relief to New Yorkers by slashing sales tax for two years. 

Mandates from the governor, over-taxation, over-regulation and an unfriendly business environment are all hindering our state’s recovery. In her State of the State address, Gov. Hochul acknowledged the 300,000 New Yorkers that left our state last year alone. Our state budget must re-instill confidence within New York families, farmers, small businesses and manufacturers. Simply put, our current course is unsustainable.

Although Gov. Hochul discussed taxation and COVID relief for small businesses, the fact of the matter is the state has $9.4 billion in unemployment debt that needs to be paid back to the federal government. It is imperative that this debt not be totally passed down and put on the backs of our small business owners, manufacturers and farmers who have made countless sacrifices over the last two years. The state has record amounts of dollars from the federal government. In fact, we have a surplus of federal funds. These funds should be used to help cover the unemployment shortfall, as other states are doing, so business owners are not further crushed by increased unemployment insurance taxes. This assistance will provide critical relief to our job creators, helping to rebound and revitalize our state’s economy that was already so negatively impacted by COVID restrictions, closures and lockdowns. 

As I said in my response to the State of the State, the governor needs to make sure we have parity with our infrastructure investment spending to ensure a proper balance in our capital spending plans. We have heard a lot of talk around making improvements to downstate infrastructure, like the MTA system in New York City, which is important. On the same token, our upstate infrastructure, in particular funding for our local roads, bridges and culverts, through important programs like the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS), is in serious need of attention as well. Critical investments in our local infrastructure will help foster economic development, increase safety and ensure upstate taxpayers see some of their state tax dollars coming back into their communities here in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes Region. This has always been a priority of mine and one that I will continue to advocate for during the upcoming budget cycle.

Finally, and most importantly, I have and will continue to fight for adequate and critical funding for one of New York’s most vulnerable groups, the developmentally disabled. This must be an absolute top priority for our state in this year’s state budget. COVID has taken a massive toll on their programs, services and quality of life, in addition to the dedicated direct-support professionals who are tasked with their care. Budgeting is all about priorities, and if we are not taking care of our most vulnerable citizens, what does that say about us as a state and our priorities.

I welcome the opportunity to work with Gov. Hochul and my legislative colleagues in a bipartisan manner to address the concerns and needs facing New York families and businesses to push to advance a budget that is balanced, fair and equitable for all New Yorkers.

New York State Assemblyman Phil Palmesano represents the 132nd District, which includes Yates and Schuyler counties and portions of Chemung, Seneca and Steuben counties.