Praise and criticism for Cuomo’s $178 billion budget proposal

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 January 2020 at 10:17 am

Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented his executive budget on Tuesday, a $178 billion spending plan for the state.

Here are some of the reactions to the governor’s proposal:

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, R-Batavia:

“The governor made a lot of promises Tuesday, specifically to increase funding across the board for every program in the state, including an out-of-control Medicaid program that is the root cause behind a $6 billion deficit. In fiscal year 2018 alone, New York spent more on Medicaid than Texas and Florida combined, despite having around half the population.

“The national economy is booming in almost every metric, yet under one party leadership in New York, we are facing a massive shortfall. Every indication says we need to roll back reckless spending, but Gov. Cuomo continues his handouts, even blaming counties and local governments for causing the state’s woes.

“As budget negotiations intensify, I will be working diligently to see that the governor sticks to his word of no new taxes and that his deficit does not fall on the backs of hardworking taxpayers. Whether it’s property tax relief, road and bridge repair or school funding, western New York deserves its fair share of help, and I will continue to be strong advocate on our behalf as the budget is determined over the coming months.”

State Senator Rob Ortt, R-North Tonawanda:

“New York is already one of the highest-taxed states in the country, yet Gov. Cuomo promised to rely on increased tax revenue and decreased aid to our communities in order to close the $6.1 billion budget deficit that he created. He protects his pet projects like economic development programs tarnished by corruption and billions of tax dollars going to film studios in New York City and Hollywood. He’s doubling down on failed policies that ignore the reality that New York taxes and spends far too much.”

NYS Association of Counties President John F. (Jack) Marren, in response to Medicaid costs:

“In 1966, the State’s new Medicaid program cost county homeowners and businesses $112 million in local property taxes. Today, that cost is $7.6 Billion.

“More than 50 years later, in 2013, to address property taxes at the local level, the state capped increases in local Medicaid costs. On behalf of the 62 counties, including the boroughs of New York City, we are grateful to Governor Cuomo and the Legislature for championing the State’s cap on local Medicaid cost growth. It has proven to be an historic safeguard against property tax growth.

“Once again, counties stand united behind lowering the cost of Medicaid and improving the quality of care for those in need. We will review what is under local control to accomplish this, as well as what parameters are under state control, to insure the integrity of the taxpayer-funded health care program.

“As with any organization, today’s health care costs, especially those embedded in Medicaid, are inherently systemic. Right now more than 1/3 of New York’s population is on Medicaid, more and more Baby Boomers are accessing costly long term care, and other medical coverage—from prescriptions to x-rays to hospital stays.

“Counties stand ready to work with a Medicaid Redesign Team to assist the state with reforming its Medicaid Program.”

New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher:

“Governor Cuomo recognizes that this will be a challenging year in Albany. Many challenges also exist in rural communities across New York State as farm families look to rebound following years of low commodity prices, extreme weather events, trade barriers and mounting regulations.

“Fortunately, Governor Cuomo is proposing significant tax cuts in his State of the State that are priorities of New York Farm Bureau. These include tripling the Current Income Exclusion for farmers who file under the personal income tax. The Governor estimates that this will reduce taxable income and liability for estimated 4,000 farmers. He is also proposing to make the Investment Tax Credit refundable for taxpayers whose primary source of income is from farming operations, allowing farm families to receive the full benefit of their credits earned.

“The Governor is also looking to expand the procurement of New York farm products in schools by expanding the New York Thursday program. New York Farm Bureau also supports further deregulating craft beverage laws and expanding broadband and cell service to rural areas. New York Farm Bureau believes that by working together, we can accomplish many of the goals that unite us all to benefit agriculture, a leading economic engine in this state that we all need.”

New York State School Boards Association Executive Director Robert Schneider:

“Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed $826 million increase in school aid represents a starting point for negotiations with the state Legislature, though the proposal represents less than half of the estimated $2 billion school districts need to maintain educational programs and expand learning opportunities.

“We are particularly encouraged by the governor’s mention of additional funding for prekindergarten, afterschool programs, and early college high school programs, as well as his aggressive efforts to protect students from the health consequences associated with vaping.

“We have concerns about the impact on school districts of consolidating several expense-based aid formulas, given that these aid categories are designed so that lower wealth districts receive higher reimbursement rates.

“We await further details and timing on the governor’s proposed restructuring of the way school aid is distributed. The current foundation aid formula should be updated to measure factors such as poverty more accurately, but fully funding foundation aid at the levels intended when the formula was first enacted in 2007 would go a long way toward accomplishing the governor’s objective: ensuring high-needs districts – indeed, all districts – receive adequate state aid.

“With this year’s allowable tax levy increase below 2%, schools will be watching Albany closely for sufficient aid to support vital educational programs and services.”

Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie on Twitter:

“Since I became Speaker, we’ve increased school aid more than $6 billion, and increased funding for higher ed opportunity programs more than 40%. This session, we will continue that investment in our children’s futures.”

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