Last year, against my “no” vote, the Legislature approved a $131 billion spending plan. Now the Governor wants us to pass a $134 billion budget.
Make no mistake. Despite the Governor’s talk about the urgency of closing our budget deficit, he is still asking the Legislature to approve a record-high level of state spending. I cannot vote to do that. Only in Albany can the need to solve a problem be so apparent, and yet the ‘solution’ be so disappointing.
The budget makes many extremely poor choices. It raises taxes and fees by nearly $1 billion dollars, even though just a few months ago the Governor said, “no new taxes next year.” It relies heavily on the collection of taxes from Native Americans who sell cigarettes to non-Native Americans, even though no one expects his administration to have the means or the mettle to follow through on it. It makes substantial cuts to health care and education, two vital areas that my constituents want to protect above all other non-essential areas.
Going forward, this budget proposal will be modified significantly. I look forward to taking part in that process to help craft a spending plan that better addresses the fiscal challenges we face. I will oppose any tax or fee increase, and I will work with my colleagues to try to adopt a fair and realistic solution to the budget mess.