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The Assembly Minority Conference

Budget Priorities That Will Break the Bank

Column from Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay

The process of developing the annual State Budget officially begins when the governor presents his spending proposal in late January. But the terms of negotiations become clearer once legislative majority conferences offer their financial plans, which Assembly Majority members unveiled last week. “One-House Budget Resolutions” should be viewed as a political statement rather than a policy document. However, the statement made by liberals in the Assembly is cause for concern and anxiety.

First and foremost, the Assembly One-House Budget proposal calls on taxpayers to subsidize $208 billion in total spending, an unprecedented 10.9 percent increase in operating expenses. In addition, the plan calls for $6.8 billion in new taxes for Fiscal Year 2021-2022 and another $7.8 billion the following year.

This is especially troubling when you start comparing New York’s budget to other large states. The proposed $208 billion price tag puts New York in the same ballpark as California, which has an annual budget of approximately $227 billion. California, though, has a population of nearly 40 million people; that is more than double the population of New York. 

Texas has a population of 29 million residents and an annual budget of $112 billion while Florida has a population of 21.5 million residents and an annual budget of $97 billion. New York’s (shrinking) population is approximately 19.5 million residents. Why are Assembly Majority member suggesting New York’s budget should be the size of those two states combined?

California, like New York, is a liberal-leaning state, while Texas and Florida trend toward conservative principles. New York’s problem, apparently, is a self-inflicted spending problem that has never been adequately addressed.

What makes these figures even more disturbing is the reality that we are set to receive $12.7 billion in federal funding as part of the recently-enacted American Rescue Plan. Much of that money—as much as $10 billion—has not been earmarked for specific purposes. Conceptually, that is outrageous. In addition, revenues are coming into New York at a much higher rate than previously predicted. While restraint and fiscal prudence are still necessary, the immediate budget crisis is not as severe as we thought. Raising taxes permanently on New Yorkers still reeling from one of the worst economic collapses in a lifetime while sitting on $10 billion in cash is both illogical and insulting. 

New York has some of the highest tax rates in the country. People are fleeing. The Majority looks at this information and somehow see an opportunity to raise taxes and increase spending. The liberal instinct to spend money with reckless abandon and treat taxpayers—in this case, the federal government as well—as a personal piggy bank is going to bankrupt our state. Don’t forget, the state was already facing a $7 billion budget deficit even before COVID struck. The Assembly Majority’s budget proposal demonstrates that some have learned nothing.

The Assembly Minority Conference has repeatedly called for more fiscal responsibility. Somehow, a major economic crisis has emboldened the Majority to spend more than ever rather than craft a budget that acknowledges reality; we spend way too much money and our taxes are too high. The direction of our state is concerning. This budget could have been an opportunity to reduce waste, use much-needed financial aid to ease taxpayers’ burdens and put New York back on the right track. Instead, it appears Majority members are gearing up to make a bad situation even worse. 

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office. My office can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069 and by email at