Assemblyman Kevin Byrne addresses the Assembly floor during this years budget negotiations. The State Assembly approved the budgets final two bills on Saturday, April 8.
The past thirteen days were a marathon in the state Assembly. As the state failed to pass an on-time budget, Assemblyman Byrne worked continuously at the state capitol until the governor and both house majorities finally agreed to a budget deal late Friday evening. The final two budget bills were approved in the Assembly early Saturday evening.
As a newly elected member of the state assembly, I found this years budget process extremely frustrating and lacking in transparency. The piecemeal process of voting on budget bills before the entire budget was agreed to shows poor foresight on the part of the state and prevents state legislators from making truly informed decisions. The current status quo is not only ineffective, but also indicative of the dysfunction in Albany. We must work together to reform the budget process and fight to leave new controversial policy issues out of the budget. Policy issues like Raise the Age, can and should be debated and voted on the floor of both houses, as my colleagues and I did in the Assembly earlier this year, but they should do so separately from budget negotiations.
The final budget did provide a lot of good things, but it still lacked many of the reforms our state needs to get back on track. Unfortunately, the state budget continues down a trajectory that supports over-spending, back-door borrowing, high taxes, new regulations, as well as more unfunded mandates on local governments. I believe this is one of the main causes for the mass exodus of people who are forced to leave New York, which is ultimately why I could not vote in favor of the budget this year. I look forward to future years that bring a more responsible on-time budget I can support.
However, despite these issues, I am pleased to see many of the initiatives I fought for were successfully included in this years budget. Some of the successes from this years budget include;
- Allowing ridesharing statewide so companies like Uber and Lyft can come to Putnam and Westchester counties.
- Restoring sorely needed funds to the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) to support local infrastructure, roads and bridges.
- Providing $2.5 billion for Clean Water Infrastructure Projects.
- Continued funding to support the ongoing battle against the opioid & heroin epidemic.
- Supporting our direct care workers so they can be compensated justly and fairly.
- New workers compensation reforms to lower costs for businesses.
- Increased levels of foundation aid for schools in the 94th Assembly District.
These items were all major victories for not only my constituents, but all New Yorkers from across our great state.
I look forward to continuing to fight in support of these types of beneficial pieces of legislation, and will remain committed to eliminating the types of frustrating impediments that have contributed to dysfunction in our states budget process.