Southern Tier lawmakers

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

Assemblyman Joseph Giglio and state Sen. George Borrello both expressed frustration Thursday with the policy items that remain in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget.

Giglio, R-Gowanda, was especially concerned that Article 23, which eliminates “home rule” in the siting of alternate energy facilities, is in the budget.

The revised wind and solar siting laws would create a new state office to promote alternative energy projects like the proposed Alle-Catt Wind Farm in northern Cattaraugus and Allegany counties over the objections of local governments.

“Despite numerous objections by myself and many other Assembly members and senators, the budget bills presented to the Legislature for a vote are filled with policy items,” Giglio complained. “One of the most egregious policies presented this morning deals with renewable energy siting.”

Borrello, R-Chautauqua County, agrees, saying the budget opens the door for the heavily-subsidized green energy sector while eliminating home rule.

“A provision in the budget would strip away any local control of the siting process, thereby silencing those whose homes and communities will be most impacted,” Borrello said. “This heavy-handed move ... will lead to the widespread industrialization of our beautiful landscape along with the negative economic, environmental and human health impacts that follow these costly boondoggle renewable projects.”

Giglio said the item places siting in the hands of yet another state agency under the governor’s jurisdiction.

“As I said just a week ago, we need to guide New York state carefully through these trying times by passing a budget focused on our financial future,” Giglio said. “Local governments’ autonomy is being slowly stripped away while continuing to bear the burden of crushing unfunded state mandates.”

Borrello is also furious that Cuomo’s budget includes “fixes” of “last year’s disastrous bail ‘reform,’ which thoroughly abandoned public safety in a rush to appease radical activists.”

The senator notes that bail reform changes were made once again behind closed doors, and that “the ‘fix’ lacks the number one provision that law enforcement experts agreed was most critical: restoration of judicial discretion. This is an attempt to fix a fatal wound with a Band-Aid and it won’t work.”

Borrello also noted that governments, already hurting financially from the loss of local tax revenue due to the COVID-19 crisis, are “looking at unprecedented pain and hard choices under this budget.”

He argues that, rather than accept a critically-needed $6 billion in emergency federal funding for Medicaid, the governor declined the funds and is shifting more financial burden to county and city governments to pay for increased costs.

“As we focus right now on the public health emergency before us, we also have to recognize the economic emergency that is unfolding alongside it,” Borrello said. “Many of our small businesses will be casualties of this pandemic. Those that have a chance of surviving will need our assistance.”

But Borrello said they will find higher costs and more regulations to support a politically-driven agenda.

“From an expansion of prevailing wages, to a ban on polystyrene that will threaten 2,000 mostly Upstate jobs, to the rejection of a small business tax credit, this budget reminds us of how New York has gained its status as one of the worst places in the nation to start, grow and sustain a business,” he said.

(Contact reporter Rick Miller at rmiller@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)

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