Southern Tier lawmakers

State Sen. George Borrello (left) and Assemblyman Joseph Giglio.

State Sen. George Borrello said New York state’s record $212 billion budget for the new fiscal year is an “example of what happens when government spending and policy is dictated by progressive activists.”

Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, said he voted against the final version of the budget because its level of spending and increase in taxes isn’t needed after New York was allocated $12.5 billion in the federal American Rescue Plan and the state will see higher-than-expected revenues.

“As New Yorkers look forward with hope after a year dominated by the pandemic’s horrific toll on our people and our economy, our state needed a budget that would serve as the catalyst for a desperately needed recovery and economic resurgence,” Borrello said April 6. “Unfortunately, that isn’t the budget we’ve gotten.”

Assemblyman Joseph Giglio, R-Gowanda, noted the “bloated” budget puts New York’s annual spending ahead of Texas and Florida combined, and its nearly the same as the proposed amount by California’s governor, in a state with approximately twice as many residents as New York.

“Rank-and-file legislators were presented with a last-minute assortment of expenditures that will hurt our state and our citizens,” Giglio said. “My colleagues and I have been working nearly around the clock reading, researching and trying to understand the intent of the budget bills presented to us at the last minute, the same way that it has been done every year.”

Borrello said the $212 billion spending and revenue plan — which was almost a week late — was negotiated and passed by the Legislature’s Democratic majorities, with the support of a weakened and embattled governor.

“With the $12.5 billion federal bailout allocated to New York under the American Rescue Plan and higher-than-expected revenues, our budget gap disappeared, and along with it, any justification for raising taxes,” Borrello said. “Yet, this budget has a crushing $4.3 billion in new taxes on high earners and businesses.”

The budget is a 9.9% increase over last year’s $194.6 billion budget, with the increase due in part to the extra federal COVID relief.

Borrello said the “radical left lobbied long and hard” for the tax increases — and they wanted more. He said progressives believe successful individuals and businesses — job creators in New York — should be penalized for what they’ve earned.

Democrats hope the tax increase on millionaires will bring in at least $2.8 billion this upcoming year, while a corporate tax rate hike could bring in another $750 million.

“Much of this tax revenue will support the creation of a $2.1 billion fund that will allow individuals who were ineligible for unemployment insurance during the pandemic to receive payouts of up to $15,000 per person,” he said. “This is a politically-driven item with an unacceptably high price tag, particularly with our state’s unemployment insurance fund depleted by the unprecedented demand of the pandemic.”

Borrello said struggling small businesses are now being hit with insurance rate increases that threaten their survival. He said the combination of tax and spending increases will have severe and long-term consequences on our state and its future, from lost jobs and shrinking opportunities, to the continuing exodus of residents to more affordable states.

New York was already No. 1 in outmigration and that trend is now poised to accelerate, he believes.

In another feature of the budget, New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, could apply for help from a new $2.4 billion rental relief program that will offer 12 months of overdue rent and utilities, three prospective months of rent and a year of eviction protection. That’s on top of $600 million in homeowner assistance.

There are positive investments and restorations in the budget that Republicans fought for, Borrello said.

The next phase of the promised middle class tax cut has been restored, which he said will offer relief to stretched family budgets. There are modest grants and tax credits for small businesses to help them recover from pandemic-driven losses.

Schools and students will benefit from increases in aid, including a $1.4 billion increase in Foundation Aid, Borrello said. There are restorations of local transportation aid and AIM funding for local governments.

An additional $25 million was allocated for the Nourish NY program and funding for statewide agricultural programs was restored.

Giglio also said there were beneficial items in the budget, such as unprecedented increases in school aid.

But he added, “Rather than using this opportunity to stabilize our finances and pay down our debt, this budget raises taxes by billions while increasing spending to levels that will require us to raise taxes even further or make painful choices about spending cuts in the future.”

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