I think I speak for most of my neighbors and the residents of our County in saying our State elected leaders should always act responsibly on our behalf. While this may seem like a basic principle, the month-late State budget our leaders have only just gotten around to passing exemplifies the very worst violation of this tenet.
This is the latest budget in more than a decade, and regardless of whether or not one agrees with the policies in it, we should all expect more from our State elected officials. A late budget is not a political talking point or small accounting issue. While State employees continued to get paid through extenders, major fiscal issues and policy problems can result from delays in the budget process.
For example, we were waiting to see if the State would irresponsibly pass on additional Medicaid costs to Counties. Now we are just finding out that this proposal has indeed become a reality to be “phased in” over a few years. This policy could cost property taxpayers in Albany County more than $8 million annually once finalized. Like us, localities around our state must be scrambling to figure out why our State Government would enact such a regressive policy in the face of inflation and rising cost-of-living issues.
The elected leaders of Albany County – myself, the County Executive, and my Democratic colleagues in the County Legislature – don’t always agree on issues of great importance. However, we are united against policies like the Medicaid cost-shift, because we know it will raise taxes at a time when taxpayers can afford it the least.
This budget is the largest in state history. The Governor and State Legislature continue to raise budgets and spend hard earned taxpayer dollars with no fiscal constraints. New York State continues to lose population and business to fiscally responsible states. New Yorkers need to wake up and hold their state elected officials accountable.
Last year, our County budget passed unanimously, on time, and with little discord. It also included an eight percent cut in property tax rate for Albany County residents. This collegial, bipartisan approach has served the residents of our County well. State leaders should take note.
Minority Leader – Albany County Legislature