Ortt: Hochul budget proposal doesn’t address ‘affordability crisis’ in NY

Staff Reports Posted 1 February 2023 at 7:57 pm

Farm Bureau sees lots of good, some bad in executive budget

Gov. Kathy Hochul presented her $227 executive budget proposal today, and Rob Ortt, the State Senate Republican Leader, said it adds billions in spending without making the state a more affordable and safer place to live.

Here are some of the reactions to Hochul’s budget proposal:

State Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt: “In the midst of an unprecedented affordability crisis, the Governor presented a state budget that continues to tax and spend without providing any real relief to struggling New York families and businesses. New York is facing a public safety crisis, and yet, there was no specific plan to fix the state’s disastrous bail laws.

“Instead of presenting solutions to make New York more affordable, this budget adds billions of dollars in new spending and imposes a new payroll tax that will hurt downstate New York businesses.

“As the budget process moves forward, the Senate Republican Conference will continue to focus on solutions to make New York safer, stronger, more affordable, and more free.

“New York needs a rescue plan – this isn’t it.”

New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher: “Gov. Hochul said today, ‘Don’t forget the farmers,’ and she didn’t in the proposed state budget. Her economic development plan, prioritized in her budget address, includes a refundable investment tax credit for agriculture that will incentivize improvements on family farms across the state. This is especially needed following years of low commodity prices, high inflation, and a pandemic, all things that have caused deep concern in the farming community.

“We greatly appreciate this important step forward from the governor, but also express concern that a higher minimum wage rate tied to inflation will be a step backwards. Farms are small businesses facing significant inflation costs, just like all New Yorkers are confronting. Making the cost of production even more expensive raises a red flag for those in the business of feeding this state.

“New York Farm Bureau thanks the governor for additional proposed funding for agriculture, including increased state procurement of local food, $10 million to eliminate food scarcity which would support farm markets and supply chain improvements, support for NY FarmNet to address mental health needs in the farming community, and $400 million for the Environmental Protection Fund which includes assistance for farmers to implement sustainable best management practices.

The School Administrators Association of New York State issued this statement: “Regarding the governor’s education budget priorities, SAANYS applauds the proposed 10 percent ($34.5 billion total) increase in state aid to schools, which is inclusive of a $2.7 billion increase in Foundation Aid to achieve its full phase-in.

“SAANYS also supports the governor’s commitment to increasing funding for school-based mental health care; securing insurance coverage for mental health programs and services; and funding to expand prekindergarten and corresponding funding for childcare.

“However, SAANYS is disappointed that the governor has not included additional state funding to provide universal meals for all students. Commented SAANYS Executive Director Kevin Casey, “Assuring all students are provided with healthy school meals is at the core of preparing young people to succeed and thrive at school. No student should go through the day hungry or anxious about accessing their next meal. Providing universal school meals is a commonsense way to fully support our students and families, especially during these difficult economic times.”

Peter Baynes, NY Conference of Mayors executive director: “It is difficult to fathom that an Executive Budget with a $7 billion increase in spending, proposed by a Governor with an oft-stated strong belief in local governments, fails to invest one additional dime in our cities, villages, counties and towns.

“Abandoning local governments, as this budget largely does, will only make New York a less attractive place to live and work. To make matters even worse, the Governor also mistakenly lays New York’s housing shortage problem at the feet of local officials and proposes to allow the State to override local zoning and land use decisions.

“Holding municipalities solely responsible for housing growth ignores the fact that not every community has the developable land or buildings, necessary infrastructure, sufficient demand or builder appetite to meet an arbitrary housing growth threshold set by a state government than cannot possibly know the needs and conditions of individual communities.”

Renee Vogelsang, Better Buildings NY coalition member and NY director of Frack Action: “Once again, Governor Hochul is demonstrating that she’s serious about saving New Yorkers money and moving toward a clean energy future with her executive budget.

“By including the All-Electric Buildings Act and crucial subsidies for low and middle-income New Yorkers to retrofit and electrify their homes and help pay their utility bills, Governor Hochul is protecting hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers from the inhumane choice between eating and heating that too many are forced to make this winter.

“But these budget commitments are not enough to fulfill the provisions of New York’s Climate Action Plan. The Governor’s ambitious housing agenda lays out 800,000 units of new housing which must be built climate-friendly to give more New Yorkers the opportunity to live in healthy and affordable electric homes, and minimize infrastructure costs for everyone.

“It is also essential to fundamentally reform existing public service laws to align with the Climate Act. With the 100 foot rule, and ‘obligation to serve’ still in place, New Yorkers will continue to be forced to subsidize gas utilities’ outdated, inefficient energy infrastructure projects costing current gas customers more than $200 million a year. The NY HEAT Act will protect low and middle income-New Yorkers’ wallets, and we urge the Senate and the Assembly to include both in their one-house budgets.”

New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta issued this statement: “For years, NYSUT members have been fighting for proper school funding and staff levels. The governor’s proposed budget is a historic step in the right direction that promises to dramatically improve our schools and the communities they serve.

“However, we have grave concerns about the proposal to expand the number of charter schools. This will have a devastating impact on our public schools, especially for our state’s most underserved students. History shows that the corporate charter school industry is interested in making profits, not in the well-being of all students, educators and families. Charters exclude students who don’t fit their business model, and they operate without input from the public or accountability to taxpayers. Where public schools unite our communities, charter schools fracture them.”

Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Duffy: “Public safety, economic revitalization, and workforce development were centerstage during Governor Hochul’s FY2024 budget announcement – three initiatives Greater Rochester Chamber is proud to continue supporting.

“Greater Rochester is facing an unprecedented rise in gun violence and crime which directly and adversely impact our ability to succeed. The need for qualified, reliable workers is among the most pressing concerns we hear from leaders of businesses of all types and sizes throughout our region.

 “We look forward to working with Governor Hochul in her efforts to address these issues and remove the barriers inhibiting our region from reaching its potential. That includes revisiting those policies that are enabling violence and crime, revamping New York’s talent strategy, and making New York a state that fosters growth and innovation rather than hindering it.”

Assemblyman Mike Norris (R,C-Lockport) issued this statement: “The number one reason New Yorkers are moving out of state is because this state is too expensive, but today we heard yet another ‘tax-and-spend’ plan that ignores this reality and will only exasperate it further.

“The more people New York taxes out of our state, the less revenue the state will have to spend and the more it will hurt everyone. It’s time for leaders who understand the realities New Yorkers are faced with on a day-to-day basis. Let’s get back to basics and pass a budget that helps people and makes the state safer and more affordable for everyone.”

Michael E. Zurlo, president of the New York State Association of Counties: “As a former county official, Governor Hochul should know that any new costs imposed on New York’s local governments eventually come out of New Yorkers’ pockets in the form of higher property taxes that drive up the cost of both rent and homeownership.

“Unfortunately, the Governor’s budget includes an unprecedented shift that will saddle local taxpayers with up to $1 billion in new Medicaid costs by pocketing Enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Program (eFMAP) funds that were intended to go directly to local governments to help hold costs down.

 “Not only does this proposal harm New York’s local taxpayers, but it also subverts Congress’ intent that eFMAP be shared with local governments that contribute to the Medicaid program. In March of 2020, New York Senator Charles Schumer championed that ‘Enhanced FMAP funds are so important because they are immediate and flexible. The state – which gets billions and the most of any state in the nation – and counties use the money they save on whatever they want.’”

“At a time when New York is facing an affordability crisis, the last thing the Governor should do is burden local taxpayers with more costs that will drive up the cost of homeownership and rent, increase business expenses and make New York more unaffordable.

 “We sincerely hope the Governor will reconsider this misguided proposal, adhere to Congress’ intent, and continue to share this federal funding so that so we can do our part to make our state more affordable.”