ALBANY, NY – Senator George Borrello released the following statement on the passage of the 2023-24 New York State Budget:
“New Yorkers have heard repeatedly over this last month that ‘the right budget is more important than an on-time budget.’
“Yet, the sad truth is all that extra time did not produce ‘the right budget.’ It produced another bad budget that, once again, ignores New Yorkers’ top concerns – affordability and public safety – and spends us into a fiscal death spiral. At $229 billion, this budget means we will be spending $627 million taxpayer dollars every single day.
“Government watchdogs have decried the reckless spending which will explode next year’s projected budget gap and set us up for a long-term structural deficit of over $15 billion. New Yorkers, who already pay the highest taxes in the nation, will not find any relief in this budget and may very well see increases in the not-too-distant future because of the excessive spending. Property taxpayers are also at risk of higher taxes in the next few years as the state begins withholding federal Medicaid funds that were designed to help counties with these costs.
“Throughout the process, the narrative we’ve heard is that the governor was fighting for changes to the bail law to strengthen public safety. Many people had high hopes that we would finally get a significant tightening of the disastrous changes that have transformed our criminal justice system into a dangerous revolving door. Disappointingly, the promised changes are nothing but a shell game that will do nothing to reverse the tide of rising crime. Ninety percent of crimes are still not eligible for bail. Judges still do not have the discretion they need to hold dangerous individuals, despite rewording of the ‘least restrictive’ standard.
“With a budget process conducted behind closed doors, it is easy to slide in controversial items in the last minute to prevent opposition from having time to organize. We saw that happen with the addition of a provision to dismantle the existing board and governance structure of the Western Regional OTB. This blatant power grab will undermine the voices of the rural counties who are part of the OTB board and put at risk the successful operation of Batavia Downs, the only profitable Western Regional OTB location.
“While elected officials love to proclaim their support for small businesses, ‘actions speak louder than words,’ as they say. Small businesses’ requests for the state to help pay down the crushing COVID-era unemployment insurance debt that was unfairly dumped in their laps was ignored once again. Adding insult to injury, small businesses, farms and employers of every size will have to find a way to finance the higher minimum wage mandates in this budget, even as the last increase is less than six months old.
“There were a few positive outcomes worth noting. The advocacy of myself and my colleagues was effective in removing the Executive Budget’s harmful housing mandates that would have steamrolled over localities’ home rule rights with regard to zoning and right sizing communities.
“It is also encouraging that the fierce opposition of myself and the members of our Conference on the governor’s all-electric mandates helped remove her proposed requirements on existing homes from this budget. However, the mandates for new construction remain and are set to begin in 2025, which will have a devastating impact on the construction sector and related industries. That is just one of many fights that remain on this critically important issue.
“New Yorkers deserve ‘the right budget’ and an on-time budget. This year, they received neither.”