New York lawmakers react to state budget
ALBANY, N.Y. (WCAX) - Gov. Kathy Hochul signed off on the budget New York lawmakers passed on Tuesday night. Despite this, very few people seem to be celebrating.
Lawmakers have called the budget process frustrating and opaque. The initial budget that goes before them is assembled by the governor and majority leaders, all of whom are currently Democrats. Even still, they all had a hard time getting on the same page, leaving Republicans saying this is the worst budget they’ve ever seen.
“Two-hundred-and-twenty-nine billion is more than Texas and Florida spent combined and they both have more people than New York,” Republican Sen. Dan Stec told WCAX News.
Stec and Democratic Assemblyman Billy Jones say the state’s spending plan is far from perfect, in addition to being a month late.
“It’s just staggering money the taxpayers are eventually going to pay for,” Stec said.
“There shouldn’t be a bunch of policy in it because it just distracts away from our work of actually getting a budget,” Jones said.
The biggest holdups to the budget were two major policy changes put forth by Hochul. One was to create 800,000 housing units, which didn’t make it through. The other addressed bail reform, giving judges more authority.
“It now gives them discretion if they need to hold violent criminals accountable and upholds our fundamental belief in a criminal justice system that is fair and accessible to all,” Hochul said.
Political Analyst Harvey Schantz says governors interjecting policy into major pieces of legislation, like the budget, is becoming a more common practice.
“If a governor is interested in a particular item, by putting it in the budget, she forces the state Legislature to take a look at that item at the time,” he explained.
While the art of the compromise left most people dissatisfied, lawmakers say it’s not all doom and gloom.
“I’m very happy with the money for the Environmental Protection Fund; $400 million and a lot of that is getting spent in the Adirondacks, so that’s a very good investment,” Stec said.
That excitement is echoed in the region. John Sheehan with the Adirondack Council says the millions in funding they receive will go a long way for its $137,000 residents and roughly 8 million tourists.
“Having a wonderful wilderness area that’s remote and beautiful is only half the picture,” Sheehan said. “It has to be a place that’s ecologically stable and be a place that can ecologically survive and sustain itself into the future.”
“Our job is to govern. Our job is to deliver a budget to New York state and that’s what we did,” Jones said.
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