Republican lawmakers say the 2020 budget adopted earlier this week will make it even more difficult for “hardworking, middle-class taxpayers to provide for their families and make ends meet.”
Some have gone so far as to label the new budget an “April Fool’s joke,” a “monstrosity,” and even “criminal.”
Senate Republican Leader John Flanagan issued a statement saying the budget includes “a multitude of unfunded mandates that will drastically hamper the viability of local governments,” and will also enact “catastrophic changes” to New York’s criminal justice system which will enhance the rights of dangerous criminals over law-abiding citizens.
Republican lawmakers are especially angry over criminal justice reforms such as eliminating cash bail for many nonviolent crimes and changing the pre-trial discovery process to give defense attorneys more time to consider evidence; the new DREAM Act, which allows undocumented students to use college financial aid programs; and a host of new fees and taxes ranging from tolling in lower Manhattan to a 5-cent fee for using paper bags in grocery stores and other retailers.
“After months of warning about the disastrous effects of one-party government, New York’s worst nightmare has been realized with the 2019-20 state budget,” Flanagan said. “Not only have Senate Democrats betrayed the hardworking taxpayers they are supposed to represent — they have focused virtually all of their energy on delivering for criminals and illegal immigrants, and appeasing the radical, socialist fringe that now controls their party.
“By voting for this disastrous spending plan, Democrats have totally turned their backs on local governments and middle-class families struggling through New York’s growing affordability crisis,” Flanagan added. “Our great state deserves a much better budget.”
Furthermore, Republicans say the money budgeted for new programs — such as early voting for example — are not enough to pay the actual costs.
Flanagan says the State Board of Elections estimates early voting will cost $175 million, a number far greater than the $25 million local governments will receive from the state.
“This reckless action will put additional pressure on towns, villages, and counties to raise taxes or cut essential services,” Flanagan said.
Senator Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, blasted the state budget because it “does more for law breakers than giving a break to honest, hard-working, law-abiding citizens.”
Tedisco is citing the budget’s “lowlights” as new taxes and fees on Internet purchases, prescription medicine, grocery bags, real estate purchases, driving in New York City, and renting a car upstate.
Tedisco is also calling a proposal for taxpayer-funded elections – only being studied at this point — “welfare for politicians,” a way to force taxpayers to fund political advertisements, robocalls and campaign activities of candidates they do not support.
He and other Republicans say eliminating cash bail for nonviolent crimes is like a “get-out-of-jail-free cards for dangerous criminals” and limiting the availability of mugshots and arrest reports is a First Amendment violation and will make the public less safe.
“This year’s state budget taxes too much, spends too much, borrows and mandates too much and does more to reward downstate special interests and those who break the law than help ease the tax ache for law-abiding citizens. It’s so bad for Upstate and law-abiding residents, it’s criminal,” Tedisco said. “This is what happens when you have total domination of state government by one party from one region of the state creating a state spending plan that caters to extreme, partisan special interests and largely ignores the needs of upstate taxpayers and struggling small businesses.”
Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, R-Staten Island, said “criminals, illegal immigrants and U-Haul” are the big winners under the new 2020 budget.
Although she did help restore $3.7 million for a program that benefits military veterans with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries, she — like her Republican colleagues — is not happy with the reforms to the criminal justice system, the DREAM Act, or the new fees and taxes that will help pay for the struggling MTA.
“This year’s budget will end the cash bail system for 90 percent of crimes with the exception for those charged with violent felony offenses, but judges will still be prohibited from considering a defendant’s threat to public safety as a factor to hold them in jail before trial,” said Malliotakis, who challenged New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2017. “As if that wasn’t bad enough, they will also reduce the maximum jail sentence for misdemeanors from 365 days to 364 to protect illegal immigrants who commit crimes, including sex abuse and forcible touching, from deportation.
“Overall, this budget is one bad April Fools’ Day joke on the law-abiding, tax paying citizens of our state and will lead to more New Yorker’s fleeing to lower-taxed and more reasonably-governed states.”
Rochester-area Sen. Rich Funke says those who voted for the 2020 budget “voted to put a stake through the heart of the upstate economy.”
While Funke said he is pleased with increased education aid, money to support direct care worker’s salaries and legislation make the tax cap permanent, there are many more negatives to the budget that will have a direct impact on upstate New York.
“Upstate New York faces an existential economic crisis. We have lost one million New Yorkers to outmigration since 2010 and there is no end in sight,” Funke said. “The worst part is we all know what is causing this crisis-high taxes. We already had among the highest combined tax burdens in America before this budget, and with its adoption, we have made a terrible situation much worse.”