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Column: Assemblyman Phil Palmesano

The worst state budget I've ever seen

ALBANY, April 5, 2019 -- Budgets aren’t just about figures on a spreadsheet. They define our priorities and express our values. That’s why I’m so alarmed by the state budget deal struck this week between the governor and Democrat lawmakers, both downstate and upstate.

They’ve made their priorities crystal clear.

They don’t involve Upstate New York. They certainly don’t involve the middle class.

It would be difficult to overstate how bad this budget is. Billions of dollars in revenue is being raised and shipped to New York City to fund the mismanaged MTA. Meanwhile, at the exact same time, the governor and Democrat lawmakers, again downstate and upstate, killed a long-overdue bipartisan proposal to increase funding for local roads, bridges and culverts across the state through the successful CHIPS program. However, they added insult to injury as they agreed to cut $65 million in critical funding for municipalities to repair vital infrastructure impacted by winter storms. Just as the MTA is the lifeblood of the downstate transportation network, our local roads, bridges and culverts are the lifeblood of our transportation network Upstate. The governor and Democrat lawmakers, again downstate and upstate, shortchanged us.

This budget fails to look out for our most vulnerable New Yorkers, the developmentally disabled, by failing to provide promised funding to help secure a living wage for our direct support professionals who are responsible for providing them with critical quality of care and quality of life services. This budget slashes $20 million for a critically important and effective library construction grant program. Libraries, particularly in rural areas, are critical hubs promoting literacy, continuing education, internet access and workforce development. This budget cuts and eliminates funding for important agricultural programs that help our family farms. The governor imposed a new tax on pain medication that will raise premiums, increase healthcare costs and hurt patients. Not one dime of the revenue will go to increasing the state’s investment in battling the heroin and opioid epidemic that is tearing our communities apart.

This budget has zero tax relief for the middle class. In fact, it effectively increases school property taxes by freezing STAR savings for many homeowners, including seniors. This budget raises taxes by a whopping $4.4 billion.

If the governor is cutting important programs for Upstate, where is all the money going? What are his priorities? It’s a shocking list. Passage of the DREAM Act that allows free college for undocumented immigrants, over $400 million in tax credits and handouts to elite Hollywood film producers who just so happen to line the governor’s coffers with campaign cash. $100 million, and believe me it will end up costing much more than that, to create a taxpayer-funded campaign system. You will be forced to purchase lawn signs, mailers and annoying television ads for candidates you don’t even like. There’s a new, crushing unfunded mandate for small businesses, local governments, emergency first responders, hospitals, nursing homes and schools that will require all employees to be given three hours "paid" time off during work hours to vote in any election. There’s new burdens and restrictions that will make it harder for police officers and immigration officials to do their jobs.

Let's not forget the governor demanding to close three additional state correctional facilities with just three months notice instead of the one-year notice required under current law. Democrat lawmakers, both downstate and upstate, agreed with him. This will be devastating to communities, employees and families alike. The governor likes to take ownership and boast about the number of prisons he has closed over the years, but he fails to take responsibility and ownership for the "powder keg" environment these closures and other dangerous actions and policies he's advanced has created inside our state's correctional facilities. According to the Department of Corrections' own website, inmate-on-staff assaults and inmate-on-inmate assaults are up over 50% the last 5 years. Yes, a dangerous "powder keg" environment.

This budget contains no additional funding to help provide the necessary tools for our correctional officers to combat the rising contraband and drug problem happening inside our correctional facilities right now. No new technology or screening equipment, no advanced mail and package vending screening system and no drug dogs deployed at every correctional facility. Quite frankly, before we even consider closing one additional prison, we should first stop and permanently end the dangerous and inhumane practice of double-bunking and double-celling inmates. The brave men and women who go to work each day in this dangerous environment should know we have their backs. Unfortunately, the governor and democratic lawmakers, again both downstate and upstate, just put a knife in their backs. So very sad and so very wrong.

After caving to the governor on literally all of his priority issues, how did the Democrats in the state Senate and Assembly stand up to the governor? Well, they gave him a massive pay raise in the middle of the night. So they didn’t stand up to him, they stood with him on all of these things. And by doing so, they all stood against Upstate.

This governor and Democrat lawmakers have turned their backs on Upstate New York and the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes Region. I never will. I will continue fighting against the high taxes, senseless spending and needless handouts that have led over one million New Yorkers to flee from this state since this governor took office.

Photo in text: Assemblyman Phil Palmesano

Schuyler County Officials

Legislature Members:

Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Jim Howell, Michael Lausell, Van Harp

Bottom row: Carl Blower, David M. Reed, Phil Barnes, Mark Rondinaro.


Legislature Chairman

Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687

Legislature Members:

Carl Blowers

Van Harp

Jim Howell

David M. Reed

Michael Lausell

Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen, 481-0482

Mark Rondinaro

County Clerk: Theresa Philbin, 535-8133

Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222

Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222

District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383


State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County

Sen. Charles E. Schumer

United States Senate
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3201
DC Phone: 202-224-6542
DC Fax: 202-228-3027
Email Address:

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand

United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
DC Phone: 202-224-4451

Congressman Tom Reed

2437 Rayburn HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515

State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)

Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2091
Fax: (518) 426-6976

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano-- Steuben, Schuyler, Yates
Room 723, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (518) 455-5791


© The Odessa File 2019
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869