Local state legislators say Cuomo shifts blame in describing state’s fiscal woes

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 January 2021 at 9:11 am

Orleans County representatives in the State Legislature are critical of the Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget proposal.

Cuomo on Tuesday said the state is in dire need of federal aid to close a $15 billion budget gap. Without that aid, the state would be forced to make cuts to education and critical programs, borrow money, raise taxes and put off capital investments, Cuomo said.

Here are the statements from the local state legislators.

State Sen. Robert Ortt (R-Tonawanda), who is also the State Senate Republican leader:

“(The) 2021 Executive Budget presentation was full of wishful thinking but lacked any sort of tangible substance. The Governor continues to shift blame to the federal government while Albany Democrats skirt responsibility and allow the Governor to make all of the decisions unilaterally. New York’s overtaxing and overspending far predate Covid, and it’s time for the state government to realize that on behalf of our struggling businesses and middle-class families. This is poor financial management and poor governing.”

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R-Batavia):

“Over the course of an hour the Governor got on TV and continued to blame everyone and everything but himself for our state’s financial woes. Instead of threatening to sue the federal government if they don’t do enough to bail us out of the mess the Governor had a great deal to do with, he should be talking about what we can do ourselves to cut wasteful spending, because we can’t always rely on Washington to save us from our Governor’s bad spending habits.

“What New Yorkers needed to hear was a detailed plan to work with local governments to distribute vaccines effectively, save our small businesses and help families keep food on their tables, but all they got were a few helpful proposals mixed among a sea of wasteful ones, including a proposal to spend $10 million this year on helping illegal immigrants pay their legal fees. Now more than ever we need to tighten our belts fiscally and focus on what matters, and I am disappointed (Tuesday’s) budget address did neither.”

State Assemblyman Mike Norris (R-Lockport):

“After a week of State of the State speeches, New Yorkers need real action to move our state forward. I am ready to work together with the governor and my colleagues to get a fiscally responsible state budget passed. This year’s budget will be unlike any we have seen before, and while now is the time for restraint and prudence, it is also the time to focus on our economy, infrastructure and our schools.

“We cannot allow Albany to impose another tax-and-spend, policy-heavy budget on our state. New Yorkers need a simple, clear fiscal plan that will help our businesses, local governments and schools get back on their feet and move forward. For the better part of a year, through no fault of their own, the hardworking people of our state have been shut down and shut out of the discussion about their future in our state. Already over one million people have left New York and, if Albany doesn’t take action soon, more will follow.

“While I review the governor’s plan and work with my colleagues to oversee the budget process as a member of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, I will be focused on three important priorities for our Western New York community. First, infrastructure projects are needed in order to get our state up and running.

“Claims that 98 percent of our state has access to broadband internet are simply not true, especially in rural parts of our community. That must be remedied immediately. Our roads, bridges and sewers also need to be modernized.

“Secondly, our businesses need immediate help. The aid we anticipate coming in from Washington, D.C. must go in large part to helping our local employers before more of our businesses close their doors forever. People need jobs. We need local economies all across our state. This is an emergency of the state’s creation, and Albany needs to treat it as such.

“And finally, but certainly of extreme importance, are the organizations in our community that make living here truly home. Our schools need help, that’s without doubt. But our local volunteer fire companies are also in dire straits. Because of the shutdown, they were unable to fundraise for the necessary, basic operating capital they need to protect our lives and property during life threatening emergencies and natural disasters. Without them, how will we be protected?

“The state’s primary obligation is to ensure public safety, and it needs to step up to make things right by including provisions of my legislation to reimburse volunteer fire companies for lost operating aid as part of this year’s budget. I have fought very hard to advocate for our volunteer firefighters over the years, and I will continue doing so to make sure they have a voice during this budget.”