Fitzpatrick: Excessive Spending Highlights Broken Process, Influence of Special Interests

Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R,C,I-Smithtown) today spoke out against the adoption of the bloated state budget, which, despite a looming economic recession, once again failed to rein in excessive spending or include the necessary tax relief to secure the state’s future financial health.

“Despite the economic downturn, the budget was, once again, negotiated in secret and crammed with record spending increases, new taxes and lack of debt relief that jeopardizes the financial health of our state by creating even larger deficits in future years,” said Fitzpatrick. “The state is facing a historic financial crisis as looming economic problems have eroded our revenue sources. Yet, despite overburdened taxpayers pleading for relief, the lack of fiscal restraint demonstrates the pervasive grip that pressure groups have on the budget process and on the excessive spending to meet their demands.”

The 2008-2009 State Budget increases spending by 4.9% to $121.7 billion, contains over $882 million in new taxes and increases the budget deficit by $1.5 billion to $55 billion. According to Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, projected state spending is unsustainable and the proposed Executive Budget will cause the state to face “out-year” budget gaps of $3.6 billion in 2009-10, $6.1 billion in 2010-11 and $7.2 billion in 2011-12. There are no expectations that these deficits will be less than the current projections.

Fitzpatrick also raised concerns with the legislature’s insertion of language in the budget banning the use of student test performance data when considering a teacher for tenure, a lifetime employment guarantee. New York is the first state in the nation to remove the accountability aspect. According to Fitzpatrick, this will set a dangerous precedent.

“Our students continue to lag behind their peers in other states with regard to academic achievement,” said Fitzpatrick. “It is critical that we not relax accountability and hold both teachers and students to the highest standards.”

“Moving forward, I urge my colleagues in the legislature to begin demonstrating the fiscal discipline necessary to improve our fiscal health,” said Fitzpatrick. “I am deeply concerned that, in light of the enacted spending plan, we will be forced to reconvene later this year and reduce appropriations due to the deteriorating economic climate. That is unacceptable, and our constituents demand better.”