By Will Barclay
Governor Kathy Hochul unveiled her $233 billion Executive Budget plan, which provided her vision for New York over the next fiscal year. It was refreshing to see an acknowledgment of priority issues Republicans have been pointing out for years: crime, affordability and outmigration. Action from Albany is long overdue.
Historically, Democrats have shown no fiscal restraint in crafting the state budget, but there are new fiscal realities that must be addressed. The governor stated, “We can’t spend like there is no tomorrow because tomorrow always comes.” While New York is poised for another record-setting budget, I was pleased to see the governor significantly slow the growth from year to year. This is a welcome change. I strongly encourage my colleagues in the Majorities to finally keep spending in check as we work toward a final budget agreement.
While taxpayer outmigration surges, the migrant crisis continues to spiral out of control. In October, the governor’s own administration openly recommended limiting financial assistance. The Executive Budget proposed to spend an additional $2.4 billion on migrants and pulled $500 million from state reserve funds to do so. This demands closer examination and represents another example of New York’s hardworking families being left to pay the costs of Democrats’ misguided policy decisions.
Certainly, in almost any plan that spends $233 billion there will be programs and services to applaud. Maintaining resources for education, economic development, healthcare and mental health is a shared priority and important for our communities.
However, the planned closure of five more prisons is simply doubling down on the reckless criminal justice reforms of 2019. It is a confusing message for New Yorkers desperately seeking answers on public safety. Without a firm commitment to holding criminals accountable, the governor’s proposals surrounding crime should be viewed as more empty rhetoric.
This is just the first step toward a final 2024-2025 State Budget. In the coming months, I urge my colleagues in the Senate and Assembly to exhibit fiscal restraint, to stop passing bad policy we end up paying for later, and to open up budget deliberations so that New Yorkers know how their money is being spent.
Will Barclay (R,C,I-Pulaski) is the Assembly Minority Leader.