It wasn’t that long ago that the words “dysfunctional” and “Albany” were always connected to one another. Out-of-control spending, late budgets and a government unable to make even the most routine of decisions had become business as usual. I expected that one day I would be driving up to Albany and find that the Thruway Exit sign had been changed to read “Dysfunctional Albany.”
Things are beginning to change. For the second year in a row, we have a budget that is on time.
The budget does a lot of good things for New York City; so much so that we can say that New York City and the New York Giants are the winners this year.
This New York State Budget is a win for all New York City residents because:
• It doesn’t raise taxes
• It doesn’t increase state spending
• It does not cut the pension of any current state employee
• It does not force new costs on the city through unfunded mandates
This budget does many good things for New York City:
• The state will assume the costs of increases in Medicaid spending. This will save New York City nearly a billion dollars over the next 5 years.
• Improving transportation by adding $770 million in operating money to the Metropolitan Transit Authority and increasing their capital fund by $7 billion for a total of $13 billion dollars in the current 5 year plan.
• The Legislature increased spending for education for New York City by $292 million over the last school year.
• $450 million has been allocated statewide to benefit hospitals such as Brooklyn’s Lutheran Medical Center and Maimonides Medical Center, SUNY Downstate to ensure quality health care for our residents.
• Working with the governor, this budget creates “NY Works” to rebuild the state’s roads, highways and bridges. This will create thousands of new jobs and get our economy back on track.
• The budget restores $30 million to the EPIC program to help fixed-income seniors afford the cost of prescription drugs. Co-pays will be capped at $20, helping many seniors afford the drugs they need.
• The budget includes the second round of Regional Council award funding — $500 million — to continue the important work we did in last year’s budget to rebuild our regional economies.
• The budget keeps the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) regional office in Queens open to ensure the unique transportation needs of New York City are met.
Two straight on-time, fiscally responsible budgets prove that we have turned the corner and are doing the people’s business for the taxpayers — again.