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Column: Assemblyman Phil Palmesano

My take on the 2024-25 State Budget:
Uncontrolled and unsustainable spending and more misplaced priorities

By Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C-Corning)

ALBANY, May 8, 2024 -- When Gov. Kathy Hochul released her budget in January, she claimed it would make the lives of everyday New Yorkers better and more affordable. The unfortunate reality is the whopping, record-breaking $237 billion budget, $8 billion more than last year, enacted by Albany Democrats does nothing to improve the lives of New Yorkers, but instead continues down the reckless path of uncontrolled and unsustainable spending and misplaced priorities.

Their prioritization of $2.4 billion for the migrant crisis and the $700 million Film Tax Credit for Hollywood elites is irresponsible and sends the wrong message to hard-working and struggling New Yorkers. This, especially in light of their failure to significantly deliver on much-needed and long-overdue critical assistance to improve the quality of life and quality of care for our most vulnerable citizens, the intellectually and developmentally disabled and the dedicated direct-support professionals who care for them, is extremely disappointing.

This budget authorizes the governor to close up to five additional correctional facilities with just 90 days’ notice, on top of the 11 that have already been closed since 2019. The current one-year statutory notification requirement is devastating enough to our brave and dedicated correctional officers, civilian staff, their families and the community. To uproot families with just 90 days’ notice is wrong, unacceptable and an insult to those individuals who work a dangerous job to keep us safe. We owe them much more than this, and this state has once again failed them.

I am grateful we restored the governor’s proposed $60 million cut to the critically important and successful Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS). However, it simply is not enough to address our infrastructure needs and help improve our local roads, bridges and culverts that are the lifeblood of our upstate transportation network and local communities. The Federal Highway Administration’s Highway Construction Cost index has increased nearly 60% in the last 2 1/2 years, yet the Albany Democrats chose not to make CHIPS funding a priority for our upstate communities.

My colleagues and I fought to increase penalties and resources to fight the growing retail theft crisis as well as give local law enforcement the authority to shut down the scourge of local "sticker" store operations illegally selling cannabis. We advocated for much-needed changes to our state’s property law to highlight the difference between criminal squatters and tenants, and it was successfully included in the final budget. Our Conference successfully advocated for defeating the governor’s proposed funding cuts for half of our state’s school districts to fully restore the Foundation Aid in public schools.

The bottom line is New York families and businesses continue to face a public safety, affordability and quality-of-life crisis. They do not feel safe in their homes and their communities. They are still dealing with the impacts of crippling inflation and higher prices. They continue to navigate through some of the highest taxes in the nation and costly and burdensome regulations. They face higher energy costs and the continued implementation of a radical energy/climate plan that seeks to dismantle our affordable and reliable natural gas infrastructure and eliminate consumer choice on how you heat your home, cook your food, power your buildings and the vehicle you drive.

New York families and businesses have to make difficult choices every day. They practice fiscal restraint and tighten their financial belts. Why shouldn’t the state do the same? Unfortunately, Albany Democrats need to realize it is not their money they are recklessly spending, it is the taxpayers’ money. We can, and must, do better.

Assemblyman Palmesano represents the 132nd District, which includes Schuyler County, Yates County and parts of Chemung County, Seneca County and Steuben County.

Photo in text: Asssemblyman Phil Palmesano

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Charles Haeffner
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