From the NYS Assembly • Sheldon Silver, Speaker
Herman D. Farrell, Jr. • Chair, Ways and Means Committee
Legislature makes the right choice —
Stands Up to the Governor’s Budget Cuts and Tax Hikes
The Legislature stood firm in its commitment to the people of New York, overriding the governor’s veto and delivering a fair, responsible budget for New York’s families.
Legislators from across party lines could plainly see the devastation the governor’s budget cuts would cause working families. Time and again, the Legislature asked the governor to show leadership and make the right choices. Instead, he refused to negotiate and vetoed the Legislature’s bipartisan budget accord – stubbornly insisting on a budget that would impose the largest property tax increase in history, and threaten quality education and affordable health care.
Saving our schools – protecting our future
Year after year, the governor tries to slash education spending, and year after year, the Assembly restores it. In fact, prior to this year, the Assembly has successfully restored $2.8 billion of the governor’s education cuts.
This year is no different. The governor wanted to cut $1.4 billion from schools. The Assembly and Senate came together to make a better choice, restoring $1.1 billion for the coming school year. As a result, effective education programs will be spared and school districts will get the help they need to stave off the massive property tax hikes, teacher layoffs, and program cuts that many districts faced under Governor Pataki’s proposal.
Because of the restorations, universal pre-kindergarten and full-day kindergarten – both of which are cited by experts as critical in a student’s development – will be saved, as will class size reduction initiatives and after-school programs.
Protecting quality, affordable health care
Under the governor’s plan, the state’s health care system faced funding cuts of more than $2 billion – a body blow to an already reeling industry. In addition to jeopardizing quality care, the governor’s proposal could have jeopardized 48,000 jobs in the health care industry – New York’s largest employer.
Again, the Legislature stepped up to block another bad choice from the governor, restoring $1.2 billion in state funds for Medicaid, public health, and Health Care Reform Act programs. These restorations will ensure that many New Yorkers will continue to receive the quality, affordable care they need.
Specifically, the Legislature’s bipartisan plan:
Creating a more competitive workforce through higher education
The governor’s budget would have been disastrous for our state colleges and universities, affecting both the students attending them in hopes of building a better future and the local economies that depend on them. Under the administration’s original plan, SUNY and CUNY students would have seen their tuitions rise $1,400, the Tuition Assistance Program cut by a third, and opportunity programs cut in half. Base aid to community colleges also would have fallen by $345 per student, forcing property tax hikes and tuition increases.
Rather than joining the governor in undermining the educational foundations of our burgeoning high-tech economy, the Legislature restored the cuts to TAP, opportunity programs and community college base aid, and rolled back the governor’s proposed tuition increase by a third. All in all, nearly $400 million was restored to higher education.
Building a stronger economy
Over the past nine years, New York has suffered because of the governor’s failed economic development policies. Even at the height of the nation’s economic boom in the late ‘90s, he failed to adequately capitalize on our assets. In fact, had we created jobs in New York at the same rate as the rest of the country during that time, we would have 476,000 more jobs statewide – as many jobs as there are people in the entire state of Wyoming.
This year is no different, as once again, the governor has failed to provide the state with the leadership we need to move our state forward. Even worse, his budget proposal would have cut $3.5 million from the Assembly’s Empire Zone program, which his administration acknowledged is the most successful economic development program in the history of the state. Once again, it fell upon the Legislature to undo the governor’s wrong choice, restoring more than $2.3 million of his cut, protecting this vital program and the jobs it creates.
In addition, we rejected $268.9 million in new fees, fines and assessments in his budget, and lowered a tax on nursing homes to save them $45 million in the current year. We also refused to go along with his plan to raise the state sales tax by a whopping 31 percent – a proposal that was his only attempt to amend his wrong-headed budget choices.
Legislature will continue working to move New York forward
Recognizing the seriousness of New York’s budget crisis, the Assembly and Senate put aside partisan differences to do what’s right for the people of our state. The governor’s unwillingness to come up with better solutions to the budget crisis was a disappointment, but he can still exercise his leadership role in this state. The Legislature will continue working to address the many issues facing our state in a serious and responsible manner, and we will remain open to working and cooperating with the governor. The governor need not continue standing in the way of progress. We need him to join with us to move New York forward.
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