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OPINION: Assessing the $212 billion state budget for 2021-2022

By Robert Smullen


After a delay lasting a week longer than the due date demanded of us by state law, legislators recently passed the state budget mostly along party lines in Albany. With a $212 billion total, an all-time high due to pandemic spending paid for by federal deficits, it was an epic blowout. 

There are undoubtedly some smart things to like in this budget; I cannot deny that. The support for small businesses, for our farmers and veterans, and those truly in need is all welcome news. But there are just as many negatives with this budget. I want to share my thoughts about what went wrong and where we go from here as a state. 

First and foremost, the progressives’ insistence on continued increased spending at an unsustainable rate is a disappointment, especially when measured against the onerous debt the state has incurred over the past decades. It might have been inevitable, given that the pandemic has required more from all of us, but the policies that come with these record spending increases are what concern me going forward. A total of $2.1 billion in stimulus checks from the state is going to undocumented immigrants. Only half of that value is going to law-abiding citizens. Police-department funds are under threat unless they comply with the governor’s oversight initiative. Gov. Cuomo also granted the ability to shut down any jail with a mere 90-days’ notice. This all comes on top of the $24 billion the state received in federal-deficit spending. This disregard for the law-abiding citizens of the state, for their economic health and their local security, reveals just how deeply radical policies have reached into the Democrat Party.

While these policies are disappointing, there is some good news in a budget as big as $212 billion. It provides $1 million for a broadband-expansion study, which is necessary for upstate New York, and which I have been calling for since I took office. There is $500 million being devoted to a Clean Water Infrastructure Act, which will help ensure our local water sources are resourced for the next 100 years. The budget provides $800 million for a small-business recovery grant, which will help our neglected small businesses finally see some form of support for their pandemic restrictions. There is $5 million for the Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Peer Support Program, which seeks to provide our veterans with mental and physical health support.

Unfortunately, these good policies get directly mixed in with the policies of long-term state decay being pushed by the now radical majority. So New York State has its hands trapped deep down a huge budget hole, and an even bigger debt mountain being pushed onto the backs of future generations. I voted against this entire budget, because despite the good, the bad is so egregious I felt it necessary to stand against the Democrat Socialists who have gained outsize influence in our state government. And that is the ugly truth that people need to face up to sooner rather than later.       

Robert Smullen is the Republican representative for the 118th New York Assembly District, which encompasses Hamilton and Fulton counties, as well as parts of Herkimer, Oneida, and St. Lawrence counties.

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