A column by Assemblyman Brian M. Kolb (R,C,I-Canandaigua)
ALBANY, NY — February 28, 2020 — There are a lot of big-picture issues with our state budget process that are getting a fair amount of attention, and they should. How did the administration mismanage the Medicaid program so badly that it’s running billions of dollars in the red? How can the governor justify billions in new state spending when he just spent us into a $6 billion deficit? How can the governor justify continually loading up the budget with policy issues but ignore that state’s ongoing public safety crisis in his own spending proposal?
These are extremely serious issues. Look closer, though, and you’ll find countless areas where the governor’s priorities are out of step with middle-class New Yorkers across the state.
The governor’s budget includes millions of dollars in cuts to one group of people we should never, ever shortchange-our veterans. His proposal would cut $4 million from a successful, statewide peer-to-peer counseling program for our veterans at a time when there’s never been more evidence that mental health services save countless lives. The governor’s budget also slashes funding for job training, legal services and programs that help our veterans transition to civilian life. It’s utterly shameful.
Our veterans put their lives on the line for us. We should be doing more for them when they come home. The only person who seems to believe we should be doing less is the governor.
Our libraries across the state continue to enrich countless lives by connecting New Yorkers to vast educational resources, needed technologies and wonderful programming. They’ve never been busier, and they’ve never offered more to the public. Where else can you apply for a job online and print a resume if you don’t have the internet? Where else can you simultaneously entertain and educate your child for free?
The governor’s budget cuts millions in desperately-needed state aid and a whopping $20 million in funding for repairs and improvements to our libraries.
His budget also cuts future investments in our BOCES programs at a time when our economy is desperate for workers with technical skills. He’s also proposing to cut state reimbursements for absolutely essential materials like text books, library resources, software and new computers.
And even after several winters of severe, damaging storms, the governor’s budget completely eliminates the successful Extreme Winter Recovery program. It delivers direct state aid to local governments so they can repair local roads and bridges damaged by severe winter weather.
These are just a few of the issues with his budget. Slashing funding for our veterans. Cutting aid to local libraries. Eliminating needed transportation programs. All at the same time you’re increasing spending to $178 billion.
We can, and must, do better. My colleagues and I will be fighting to make sure the final budget agreement is a big improvement for our veterans, families, students and motorists.
SOURCE: Daniel LaFave | Communications | NYS Assemblyman Brian M. Kolb