Legislature–v-Governor: Albany, Cuomo at odds over 2018 state budget

BY KATHY KAHN

A contentious 2017 budget debate between Legislature and Cuomo not good for state, says Ken Pokalsky, Business Council of New York State (Photo by Kathy Kahn)

Fasten your seat belts—it’s going to be a bumpy budget ride.

Ken Pokalsky, vice president of The Business Council of New York State, outlined its own and Legislative grievances when it comes to Cuomo’s proposed $152 billion budget and his failure to fulfill the request for a pay raise from lawmakers. Cuomo calls it a “zero” tax increase budget, with his opposition disagreeing on where the money is being spent.

Although Cuomo has added extra funding for tourism in the new budget, his administration has pumped $1.5 million in highway signs touting “iloveny’s” places to visit, explore and more—many are complaining the signs are a driving distraction—yet, the overall number and size of the workforce starts to shrink as you travel further past Rockland and the mid-Hudson, leaving “upstate” with less jobs now than before Wall Street’s plunge in September, 2007.

“Although New York City has recovered from The Great Recession, its employment numbers have leveled off, and the further past Rockland you drive, the less opportunity for employment exists, creating a hole that has government asking for more taxes on state, county and local levels, said Pokalsky. “The acrimonious relationship with the Governor and the Legislature has found seven of its Democrats becoming more aligned with the GOP. The level of nastiness makes it difficult to get anything through the Legislature.”

The flip side, said Pokalsky, was the Legislature, which has power now to make amendments to the proposed budget if it can work together, loses its muscle if it passes the April 1, 2017 deadline, one Cuomo touts he has been able to meet since taking office.

With a new President and GOP-controlled Congress in office, many Albany floor debates center on what to expect under Donald Trump. Among the concerns are the Affordable Care Act being repealed and replaced, broad base federal tax reform and Trump’s efforts to repatriate the number of companies that have gone overseas. “One thing New York does not boast about is that it is the largest exporter of is its population,” said Pokalsky. “That needs to change.”

The Business Council is supporting “upstate rideshare,” which may also be a plus for the Hudson Valley, particularly Rockland, which currently has no reciprocal agreement with Westchester for its taxis to drive to pass “go” once they are on the Tappan Zee bridge. It is also lobbying for water infrastructure funding, research and development tax credits, expanded “design/build” projects, revamping the failing Excelsior Program and P-Tech funding. It is also lobbying for changes in workers compensation laws to bring down cost to employers.

“How long has New York City been the economic engine of the state?” queried Phillip Goldstein, managing partner of Lieberman, Goldstein CPA’s. “For as long as anyone can remember,” replied Pokalsky, “and the Business Council has been around since 1914. Statewide, there are fewer better-paying jobs. The manufacturing sector that once thrived upstate has been decimated.”

Pokalsky gave The Business Council of New York’s (www.bcnys.org) lobbying agenda at a Rockland Business Association luncheon February 16 at HNA Palisades Center. The former IBM Palisades Center was purchased last year for $60 million by HNA, owner of China’s Hanain Airlines, and is currently pumping millions into renovations.