The 2009-2010 State Budget has officially been passed, and it can only be summed up as a complete disaster to the 19 million residents of New York State. At a time when our state was facing a $16.2 billion budget deficit, the governor, assembly speaker and senate majority leader introduced a budget that increases spending by $10.5 billion - nearly ten percent more than last year.
When families are already finding it difficult to make ends meet, the fact that the “three men in a room” would introduce such a bloated budget is inexcusable. We face hard economic times that are forcing families to cut back on spending and tighten their belts. People are struggling and the only notable achievement that came out of this budget in the Assembly is that it was passed on time.
But meeting the April 1 deadline is inconsequential if the immediate and long-term effects are damaging. For example, absent from the budget is the STAR rebate program, which provided some relief to Long Island homeowners who pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation. Additionally, there is no property tax relief in the budget, such as a tax cap or circuit breaker, which means property taxes will continue to soar out of control.
This budget also includes $2.3 billion in cuts to health care. That’s questionable when you consider the budget includes a $1 billion slush fund for Governor Paterson, and $325 million in additional aid to New York City.
SUNY and CUNY students also are targeted in this budget, as there will be another tuition increase this year. Despite this tuition hike, only 20 percent will actually go into classrooms. The other 80 percent will be diverted into the state’s general fund. College students are essentially being taxed to make up the State’s shortfalls.
This budget is a disservice to New York residents. It spends too much, taxes too much and reforms too little. I voted ‘no!’ for this entire budget, and I applaud my colleagues who had the courage to do the same.