STATEMENT FROM BRIAN KOLB (R), ASSEMBLY MINORITY LEADER
“The final 2014-15 result: mixed emotions and missed opportunities. We could have done better. The $137.9 billion spending plan does contain positive programs that will benefit New Yorkers. But despite the chance to make important changes in several areas, many items fell short of expectations or were excluded from the final agreement.
I am proud that the hard work and advocacy of the Assembly Minority Conference has resulted in:
- $40 million in new funding for municipal road repairs, helping local communities make costly and much-needed repairs;
- an increase in Library Aid, avoiding $4 million in proposed cuts to important community institutions of learning;
- significant tax cuts for New York’s manufacturers, providing an overdue boost to one of the state’s most important sectors; and
- changes to the Common Core testing standards, many of which were recommended in January as part of the Assembly Minority APPLE Plan (Achieving Pupil Preparedness and Launching Excellence).
Along with these positive measures, the final budget misfired on items that do not meet the interests of 19 million New Yorkers – especially those upstate.
- Restoring the dramatic education cuts of 2011 should be our first educational priority. This budget does not commit to a full restoration of the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA), which is needed in every community in New York. The scales of education aid tilt too heavily toward New York City, and until we restore the GEA, upstate school districts continue to face an uphill battle.
- Another budget brings another missed opportunity to deal with unfunded mandates – the true driver of high property taxes. Local officials who have demanded mandate relief were let down once again. Eliminating mandates lowers costs for local governments, and is the only sustainable way to keep property taxes down.
- The budget’s watered-down ethics package is a far cry from what New Yorkers deserve and from what is contained in my Conference’s Public Officers Accountability Act. Stripping pensions from convicted officials and implementing term limits for legislative leaders should both be components of any anti-corruption reform measure. Any movement toward taxpayer-funded campaigns – as seen in New York City and in the comptroller’s race pilot program – does nothing to address corruption and is a disservice to hardworking New Yorkers.
- New York’s taxpayer-funded welfare system is wrought with fraud. But, instead of holding accountable individuals who use welfare benefits at casinos, strip clubs or liquor stores, this budget penalizes businesses for the misdeeds of those actually committing fraud.
The end of the budget process does not mark the end of our work in Albany this legislative session. There are critical measures that demand our attention and we stand ready to continue our work on behalf of New Yorkers.”