A Column of News & Comment by Senator James L. Seward

The governor released his state budget proposal this week under the moniker “Justice Agenda,” but there was little justice for everyday residents of our part of the state.  The bread and butter issues like taxes, jobs, and affordability were given virtually no airtime during the nearly ninety minute presentation. That’s why I have joined with my Senate Republican colleagues to offer an alternative proposal – the “Real Solutions” budget plan.

Too many people are leaving New York State and it is not because of the weather or a lack of progressive policies.  We need to focus on the bottom line – ensuring businesses can afford to grow, and that families and individuals have real opportunities to succeed.  The Senate Republican ‘Real Solutions’ budget plan tackles the real problems that we all share.  Cutting taxes, helping people afford a home, and encouraging economic growth will set us on the proper course.  This is the budget plan we need to reroute the moving vans and rebuild the Empire State.

The “Real Solutions” budget plan focuses on three basic principles:

  • Balancing the budget without any new taxes or fees AND providing real and significant relief to hardworking taxpayers;
  • Fixing the state’s affordability crisis to give middle-class taxpayers a fighting chance to succeed and get ahead;
  • Revitalizing New York’s economy so residents can find a good-paying job, take advantage of new and better opportunities and raise their families here.

We need a fiscally sound blueprint that will help make New York more affordable for families and businesses while creating opportunities for future growth.  Out of control state spending fueled by higher taxes would be disastrous, and I will stand up and fight against proposals that will cost people more of their hard-earned money.  My agenda mirrors the concerns I hear from the people I represent – a permanent property tax cap, education aid for our neediest schools, less red tape for businesses, and support for key programs to aid our farmers, veterans, and senior citizens.

Additional elements of the “Real Solutions” budget include:

  • Forcefully rejecting any new taxes or fees;
  • Fighting to impose a state spending cap.  This is more critical than ever to prevent reckless spending;
  • Making the property tax cap permanent, once and for all. In addition, the proposal would extend the property tax cap to New York City;
  • Advancing a plan to CUT property taxes through a phased-in, fiscally responsible Medicaid takeover.  The savings could then be passed on to taxpayers in the form of property tax relief;
  • Protecting this year’s property tax relief checks, and preventing the expiration of the program next year;
  • Delivering a $770 million middle class income tax cut this year. The plan would achieve this goal by accelerating the phase-in of our historic Middle Class Income Tax Cut;
  • In addition to the Medicaid takeover/mandate relief plan, the proposal would reject all unfunded mandates.  These mandates are simply hidden taxes that hurt school districts, local governments, and property taxpayers.  I will also push for the adoption of a constitutional amendment to ban unfunded mandates entirely.

I will also be fighting for broadband service for every region of the state, comprehensive tax cuts for small businesses and famers, regulatory relief for businesses, a regionally balanced transportation improvement plan, school safety improvements, and college affordability.

Joint legislative budget hearings are the next step in the process.  The hearings are webcast live so anyone interested can hear from state agency and department heads as they answer specific budget questions from senators and assembly members.  The hearings continue through Tuesday, February 12, 2019.

As the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, I will be front and center during the hearings and will be questioning the witnesses with the priorities I have outlined in mind.  If you have questions about the budget that you feel need to be asked, feel free to send me an email through my website atwww.seward.nysenate.gov.