New York State Budget Updateposted by Brian Kolb on Friday March 15th 4:17pm
Budget season is officially in full swing here in Albany. In this week’s column, I would like to provide an update on the budget process as well as an overview of what Albany still must achieve before I am satisfied that New York has a budget that helps all 19 million New Yorkers, especially the more than 800,000 men and women who are struggling to find work.
The Senate and Assembly passed their one-house budget resolutions and the Joint Budget Conference Committee process has begun. Each year, the budget begins as a document that the Governor submits to the Legislature in January. Both the Assembly and Senate take that document and make changes, then each chamber submits their own version of the state budget. The next step is the Joint Budget Conference Committees, where members from both the Assembly and Senate work together to combine the one-house budgets into a final package of state budget bills.
THE 2013 ASSEMBLY BUDGET RESOLUTION DOES NOT GO FAR ENOUGH TO HELP STRUGGLING NEW YORK FAMILIES
The 2013-2014 Budget Resolution passed by the Assembly Majority missed the mark in addressing many of the real needs of working families in the Finger Lakes region. There is simply not enough focus on crucial programs that would jumpstart our economy, cut taxes on the middle class and make our communities better places to live, work and raise a family.
As budget negotiations continue, I will be working to ensure the final state budget will:
- establish meaningful incentives to boost job-creation and economic development;
- relieve the burden of unfunded mandates on schools, taxpayers and local governments;
- eliminate the Temporary 18-A “Energy Tax,” over the next five years. This utility tax will add more than $2.5 billion to consumers’ energy bills;
- reallocate substantial funding toward the Gap Elimination Adjustment, which would provide critical financial assistance to school districts in need of relief;
- provide permanent tax relief for middle-class families;
- consolidate the Thruway Authority and Department of Transportation;
- provide adequate funding for the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPs), which would enable municipalities to address local infrastructure improvement projects;
- enact Workers’ Compensation reforms that would save employers $400 million;
- provide an increase in Library Aid funding, assistance sorely needed by community cornerstones of learning and education;
- provide adequate resources for school districts in need of funding to utilize school resource officers to ensure the protection of children; and
- allow municipalities to maintain revenue associated with local parking violations.
THE NEXT STEP: WHAT WE NEED TO ADD TO THE FINAL BUDGET TO GET NEW YORK BACK ON ITS FEET
The good news? There are some points of agreement with the Assembly Majority Budget Resolution, including the restoration of funding to programs and organizations that support people with developmental disabilities. In addition, there is also still time to address these critical issues I mentioned above in this year’s budget. I am committed to entering into a constructive dialogue with my colleagues and the governor about the economic policies that best position New York State for prosperity. My goal: craft a budget using an open and transparent process that will address the needs of all New Yorkers and put our state on firm footing for the future.
I have expressed these concerns to Governor Cuomo and identified the economic policies that will help struggling upstate communities get back on their feet and reinvigorate their local economies. My solutions for a stronger economy in Upstate New York would focus on: cutting taxes for working families; boosting New York’s economy; giving our job creators the tools they need to increase private sector job growth; providing a world-class education to our students, especially children in low-wealth, high-need school districts; supporting local governments and reforming state government; curtailing unfunded mandates that burden schools, taxpayers and local governments; and improving the quality of life in our communities.
PARTICIPATE IN YOUR GOVERNMENT – JOIN ME AT MY TELE-TOWN HALL
My Tele-Town Hall on Wednesday, March 27 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. is a terrific opportunity for you to join your friends, neighbors and me for an important discussion about the future of New York State.
Here is how to participate: on Wednesday, March 27, starting at 6:30 p.m., call 1-877-229-8493 and enter 17906 when prompted. Your phone will be muted, but you can still listen in. During the question and answer period, press *3 on your telephone if you would like to ask a question. You will be alerted when it is time to pose your question. When the meeting is over, all you need to do is hang up. I look forward to listening to the ideas and concerns of the families in my district, and hope that you will join us.