It is nothing short of disappointing that the process to generate a state budget has yielded confusion, a missed deadline, at least one emergency extender and uncertainty for residents and businesses who rely on the critical funding included in the agreement.
Considering that the closed-door negotiations are being conducted by only three members of the same political party, it is even more confusing the budget is still unsettled. There is no excuse to be so far behind developing the state’s spending plan, and each passing day is another reminder that one-party rule in New York has been a failure.
New York’s budget process, even under ideal circumstances, is already challenging thanks to the misguided agenda of legislative leadership. Once complete, residents can expect a final bill upwards of $230 billion, which would represent yet another spending record for the state. The only thing worse than a late budget put together under rushed, secretive negotiations is one that also disregards basic fiscal responsibility — this budget will likely do both.
Making matters even worse, the holdup is unrelated to any spending or budgetary considerations. Instead, the delays are born of disagreements over bail and other criminal justice reforms that largely have nothing to do with the budget. In a more functional iteration of our state government, these items would be negotiated separately so the important business of developing a responsible spending plan could progress unimpeded by unrelated policy matters. This delay has the potential to wreak havoc on school districts trying to make a plan for next year; the same goes for localities waiting on answers regarding the impact it will have on property taxes.
The Assembly Minority Conference has advocated for changes to the state’s bail, parole and criminal justice laws. We have maintained that these changes are absolutely necessary for the safety of those living here, and we will continue to push for these changes until they are made. We will also continue to fight for a spending plan that treats taxpayers with the respect they deserve. Those two items should not be controversial; safe streets and responsible spending are common-sense ideas that an overwhelming majority of New Yorkers support.
In the coming weeks, I will continue to advocate for a better budget process, and for a better budget overall. The problems facing New Yorkers are apparent. I sincerely hope my colleagues in the Legislature and the governor refocus their efforts on these needs and move past the petty bickering that has inconvenienced an entire state.
Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay