OPINION

YOUR TURN/Sen. Tom O'Mara: 'New state budget sets up a hard fall for future taxpayers'

N.Y. State Senator Tom O'Mara

Here was the headline in the Wall Street Journal assessing the recently enacted, 2022-2023 New York State budget, “It’s Albany as Usual for New York Gov. Kathy Hochul. She embraces a $220 billion blowout budget and blows up her reputation as a moderate in the process.” 

N.Y. State Senator Tom O'Mara

“Blowout budget” it certainly is.   

As the Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, I can tell you that this new state fiscal plan will hike government spending by at least $8 billion over last year, yet utterly fail to provide the kind of permanent, broad-based tax relief, mandate relief, or regulatory reform that’s needed.  

This highest-ever, $220-billion plan simply represents a misguided, so-called “progressive” one-party vision for spending billions of taxpayer dollars.    

It was nine days late, negotiated through an appallingly behind-closed-doors process, and emerged reckless in the face of the skyrocketing inflation and economic uncertainty facing this state and nation for the foreseeable future. 

One prominent fiscal watchdog, the Albany-based Empire Center, noted that the budget’s “$220 billion price tag includes a double-digit hike in state-operating spending – the dollars the state must raise on its own – for recurring expenditures subject to unpredictable growth.  That means taxpayers are being set up for a hard fall.  Unsustainable spending can only result in abrupt service cuts or counter-productive tax hikes.” 

Yes, taxpayers are being set up for a hard fall.  

To be specific: The new spending plan is nearly $8 billion more than last year and a mind-blowing $34 billion -- $34 billion – more than 2020.  In other words, the new budget represents an outrageous two-year spending hike approaching 20 percent! 

This Albany Democrat giveaway goes far beyond any reasonable sense of fairness, responsibility or long-term sustainability for hard-working, taxpaying citizens.  

It’s the largest spending plan ever enacted but it fails to include the scope of tax, regulatory and mandate relief needed to truly begin turning this state around.   

It largely ignores the need to rebuild and revitalize the manufacturing sector.  

It’s a one-party vision for spending billions of dollars that’s teeing up a next generation of hard-hit taxpayers and unaffordable living in New York State. We are going to be footing the bill and carrying the burden for these all-Democrat budgets for years to come. 

Of course the final budget will take important steps to address key priorities and it does include some badly needed tax relief for farmers and small businesses – a budget this gargantuan had better achieve something worthwhile.   

It will spread around a ton of taxpayer dollars and make plenty of people happy in the short term. But it risks a future of fiscal and economic pitfalls.   

In the end, this budget can only be defined as a spending spree. Governor Hochul follows in the footsteps of former Governor Cuomo and the Legislature’s Democrat supermajorities that last year began setting New York government loose on an irresponsible, extremely liberal, far-left frenzy of spending that blows through a one-time federal windfall and risks a future of higher and higher state taxing and borrowing.   

The bottom line is that it will not change New York’s reputation as one of America’s highest-taxed, highest-spending, highest-regulated states.  

Throughout this year’s budget adoption cycle, the Senate Republican Conference highlighted key priorities through a comprehensive “Take Back NY” agenda. We remain focused on calling for lower taxes, less regulation, greater accountability, economic growth, job creation and more common sense on state fiscal practices. 

New York remains one of the highest-taxed states in America. We are one of the most overregulated states in the nation.  Our local governments and local property taxpayers continue to foot the bill for one of the country’s heaviest burdens of unfunded state mandates.   

It’s no coincidence that New York led the nation last year in overall tax burden and population loss.  Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers are heading for the exits.   

This state was at a crossroads and we needed to enact an across-the-board agenda to permanently cut taxes, dramatically address affordability, and significantly rebuild stronger and safer communities. 

That’s not what Governor Hochul and legislative Democrats have delivered.  Not even close.  

New York State Senator Tom O'Mara represents the 58th District, which includes Yates, Steuben, Schuyler and Chemung counties and a portion of Tompkins County.