Last Wednesday, the Senate and Assembly approved their respective one-house budget resolutions.
The one-house budgets are each house’s response to the Governor’s Executive Budget proposal, reflecting their respective positions on a myriad of issues.
The Senate’s one-house budget includes funding for infrastructure investments; tax reductions; and continued fiscal discipline, and allowing the ‘millionaire’s tax’ to expire. The Senate is also pushing for much-needed reforms to the state’s Workers’ Compensation program and expanding ride hailing statewide, both of which are Unshackle Upstate priorities for this year’s budget. (Read research from the Buffalo Niagara Partnership about why ride hailing is an important transportation alternative for Western New York.)
The Assembly’s one-house budget would increase taxes for people earning more than $1 million per year; expand the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP); enact the DREAM Act; and raising the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18.
Both houses would reject the Governor’s proposal to require counties to prepare a shared services plan which would then go before voters, as well as his proposal to change the state’s spending plan mid-year if state tax revenues and federal aid do not meet expected targets.
While the two houses of the Legislature try to reach agreement on a budget, the state Democratic Party has launched an ad campaign highlighting some of the Governor’s proposals, including free public college tuition for families making up to $125,000; local government service consolidations; and increasing funding for public schools.
We are especially pleased to see that the Senate is pushing continued fiscal discipline, and wants to address two long-overdue issues that are important to Upstate: Workers’ Compensation reforms and allowing ride-hailing.
Last year, Unshackle Upstate and our partners conducted a survey of Upstate employers from across the Upstate region. It found that 84 percent of respondents identified high Workers’ Compensation costs as a significant cost concern. We are part of a coalition of more than 60 groups throughout the state that are pushing for Workers’ Compensation reform. We agree with the Senate Majority that now is the time for responsible reforms to this antiquated and costly system.
We are also pleased to see the New York State Assembly advance additional tax relief for small businesses. We hope that we will be able to convince Assembly members to support the Senate’s Workers’ Compensation and ride-hailing proposals.
As the state budget process continues to move forward, we look forward to working with all of our elected officials in Albany to advance policies that will promote growth and vitality across Upstate.