Senate GOP proposes billions in new spending as Majority adopts difficult but responsible budget

Darrel J. Aubertine

April 02, 2009

Aubertine and Valesky Speak Out Against Further Increases in Spending
(Albany, NY) Seventeen hostile amendments proposed by Senate Republicans would increase spending and put New York State in an $8 billion hole, all while violating their own proposed constitutional amendment.
The amendments would increase spending by more than $2.2 billion and leave the state short on revenue by close to $6 billion. Simultaneously, the minority conference proposed a constitutional amendment that would implement a spending cap over inflation, which would be violated by their other amendments. In fact, 20 of the last 27 spending plans passed when the Republican majority when they controlled the Senate would also have violated their amendment.
Republican proponents of such spending practices fail to recognize that the State is grappling with more than a $17 billion budget deficit. It was not indicated in any of their 17 hostile amendments how any of these budgetary increases would be paid for and suggestions on the Senate floor have centered on accounts that are unfunded and sections of law that either do not exist or have expired.
“These proposals that Senate Republicans have introduced are irresponsible political posturing. Perhaps they are unaware that we are in the midst of the one of the greatest economic crisis in modern history,” said Senator David J. Valesky (D-Oneida).   “It’s a shame that at this time of necessary fiscal prudence, wherein every dollar spent must have a benefit to the taxpayer, some don’t seem to understand the direness of the time’s were in. We closed a $17 billion dollar budget gap that was growing by the day and are passing a budget that will produce 86,000 new jobs, more than half of which can be Upstate. But instead of joining us to make this budget better, Senate Republicans unanimously worked to make this budget bigger.”
Senator Darrel J. Aubertine (D-Cape Vincent) said, “This business-as-usual approach is out of touch with the reality that we face. The so-called alternatives would put our state in a bigger hole. The same members who have proposed creating a new $8 billion budget gap oversaw an era of tremendous job loss in Upstate New York. Do they expect this state to do the same thing over and over again, but get different results? The numbers appear to be irrelevant to them. It’s a blatant example of putting politics ahead of the needs of our state.”
Senate Republican hostile amendments brought to the floor yesterday and today, would have left New York’s State Financial Plan reeling with a   gap of over $8 billion dollars above what was enacted. In their amendments, there is not a single revenue action or explanation for how these actions would be paid for. Even their revenue reduction amendments lacked details for how that gap would be filled.
Senate Republican amendments include:
Bill Number    Budget Bill                  Subject                                    $ Impact (in millions)
1                      ELFA                           SED Support                            14.4
2                       ELFA                           Tuition Revenue                       229.3
3                       TEDE                           Ag & Markets                          34.4
4                       PPGG                           Prison Closure                          26.3
5                       PPGG                           Rockefeller Reform                 23.5
6                       ELFA                           Education                                 36.0
7                       ELFA                           Higher Education                     20.5
8                       ELFA                           Spending Cap                          -
9                       ELFA                           STAR Rebate                           1,600.
10                     ELFA                           OCFS                                       11.7
11                     ELFA                           Empire Zone Reform               245.
12                     TEDE                           Revenue Bill                            5,000.
13                     ELFA                           Contract for Excellence           -
14                     HMH                            Health                                      240.3
15                     TEDE                           18-A                                         547.
16                     TEDE                           Bottle Bill                                87.7
17                     ELFA                           PIT                                           4,000. *included in #12
                                                                                      TOTAL         8,069.1                                    
“The floor has fallen out from under our economy and Senate Republicans want more of the same. In their zeal to increase spending, they have proposed funding their amendments with money they don’t have, through sections of law that don’t exist or have expired. That’s not responsible legislating, and it’s certainly not responsible budgeting,” Senator Aubertine added.
“Good ideas aren’t Democratic ones or Republican ones, but unfortunately only one side is actually coming up with ideas—the other apparently believes that ‘no’ is a plan. We’re going to continue doing what needs to be done for Upstate, to protect taxpayers’ investment in the federal stimulus and actually make sure that as many jobs are created as possible. The support of the other side of the aisle would be helpful, but we’re going to do what needs to be done, and make the tough decisions regardless of their tendencies for obstructionism,” Senator Valesky concluded.