Reaction mixed to state budget

Published Apr 11, 2018 at 4:00pm

The approved 2018-19 state budget drew reactions from legislators that ranged from optimism over funding allotments for some key categories to objections in the process for compiling the spending plan.

Among their comments:

• State Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-47, Rome, said “I want to reiterate that this is a flawed process. This budget contains items that I do agree with and others that I don’t, but overall, I am still optimistic that this budget will help to move our state in the right direction.”

Griffo said it “rejects new taxes and fees that Senate Republicans strongly opposed...from the start.” It “also includes an increase of $1 billion in education aid to schools, $65 million for road and bridge repairs and $438 million in funding for the Consolidated Local Streets and Highway Program and
$3 million in funding to strengthen and retain military assets in the state.”

Griffo added he has “always been troubled by the inclusion of contentious policy in the state budget in the past because I believe that these issues should be vetted in an independent and transparent manner. I am pleased that the majority of policy issues were not included in the spending plan and will instead be discussed, debated and deliberated where they should be during
session in the coming weeks.”

• Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, D-119, Utica, said the budget was “a difficult one to put together, because of the challenge of a $4.4 billion budget deficit that arose in part due to actions taken recently by Republicans in Washington.”

The state spending plan “contains some of the most important commitments our state needs to honor, including providing a more than $900 million increase in education aid for our school districts,” said Brindisi. It also “includes a $250 million investment to address the heroin and opioid crisis, including more funding for treatment, recovery, and prevention programs.” He is “pleased to see a continued investment in road, bridge, and other infrastructure improvements, which are a vital part of economic development in our state.” 

Brindisi voted against a plan to establish an independent commission to start examining a pay raise for state officials. He commented “while I commend my colleagues and support their actions trying to undo the disastrous effects of the GOP tax bill that hurts working individuals and working families in the context of the total budget, I had to honor the commitment I have made to my constituents and vote ‘no’ on a plan to set the wheels in motion for a pay raise for state legislators and agency directors.”

Brindisi “also voted against funding Charter School expansion in New York City, as well as exempting certain non-public schools downstate from curriculum standards.” But overall he said it was “a balanced budget that will help build a stronger state.”

Brindisi, who is running for the federal 22nd Congressional District seat, drew opposition for his state budget voting from incumbent U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-22, New Hartford. She issued a statement today regarding Brindisi’s “vote to rubber stamp” Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “reckless, corrupt budget.”

Tenney’s campaign manager, Raychel Renna, said Brindisi “has proven yet again that he is everything wrong with Albany, and he’d be a rubber stamp for (House Minority Leader) Nancy Pelosi in Washington. Governor Cuomo’s reckless budget is full of cronyism, waste, and more of the same failed policies that have driven record numbers of people and jobs out of upstate New York.”

Brindisi responded, “I think it’s laughable that she would call me a rubber-stamper when I voted against parts of the budget.” He said Tenney is “always in lockstep” with leaders in her party.

• Assemblyman Brian Miller, R-101, New Hartford, opposed the budget compilation process, observing “it’s lucky that we have a staff capable of quickly dissecting these budget bills and preparing us to debate and vote on them.”

Miller said “the governor and the majority leaders of both houses wait until the last minute to negotiate the most important policies affecting our residents each year and then force a vote with very little time for the rest of us to examine what we are voting on.”

It is “not how government should operate and it is the ultimate breach of the public’s trust,” Miller remarked. “The way this legislature operates is not in the best interest of the residents of New York state.”

• State Sen. David Valesky, D-53, Oneida, said the approved budget “includes many victories for upstate while closing a substantial deficit. These include a record investment in education, a commitment to fight harmful algal blooms in drinking water, the extension of the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits responsible for the redevelopment of many struggling downtowns, and provisions to protect vital access to health care.”