As we reflect on the passage of another state budget in Albany, we once again see how profoundly flawed and lacking in transparency the budget process has become.
Unfortunately, this years budget falls woefully short in providing meaningful tax relief for our overburdened working class families and fails to address the fundamental issues driving more and more of New Yorks residents and businesses to flee the state. Instead of providing the tax relief our residents so desperately need, state leaders again chose to prioritize the downstate agenda and continued New Yorks pattern of unsustainable taxing, spending and borrowing that has resulted in our current affordability crisis.
Perhaps even more frustrating was the startling lack of openness and transparency throughout this years negotiation process. The majority of this years omnibus budget bills were passed before a complete budget deal was agreed upon by legislative leaders and with a message of necessity, a tactic commonly used by the governor to bypass the standard aging period for bills. This prevented lawmakers from thoroughly reviewing this important legislation. The result sleep deprived lawmakers voting on piecemeal legislation in a manner that serves as an impediment to citizen oversight and good government practices. This is not the way state government should be run, especially when spending $168 billion of our hard-earned tax dollars. I refuse to accept the status quo, and that is why I ultimately voted no.
That being said, I am thrilled to see several initiatives that I have fought tirelessly to support included in this years enacted budget, including the continued funding of the Joseph P. Dwyer Vet 2 Vet Program in Putnam and Westchester Counties, additional aid for our local schools and libraries, Consolidated Local Streets and Highway Program (CHIPS) funding for our local roadways, as well as important Community Services for the Elderly (CSE) funding to support our elderly and disabled communities.
Additionally, Id like commend my colleagues in the Senate Majority, specifically Sen. Terrence Murphy and Sen. Sue Serino, for answering our calls and successfully fighting to remove the vast majority of the Governors proposed $1 billion tax increases from making their way into the final enacted budget. We are already the highest taxed state in the nation and our taxpayers cannot afford to be crushed by these taxes anymore.
Moving forward, I will remain committed to pursuing opportunities to utilize state funding to benefit our community, and steadfast in my efforts to deliver New Yorkers the accountable, efficient and ethical leadership we all deserve.