The COVID-19 pandemic is demanding so much of the state’s attention right now, but at the same time, the Legislature is being asked to pass a spending plan by April 1, a plan that we haven’t seen as of yet.
Rumors are swirling; what’s in it, what’s not and how can we possibly approve a spending plan, what may be literally overnight, when there is such a dismal prediction for much less revenue than originally thought. Some are predicting a decrease of between $4 and $7 billion not taking into account the separate $4 billion gap before COVID-19.
The virus has wreaked havoc on the stock market and indeed on nearly every aspect of normal life. It has caused massive disruption.
There is no question that the coronavirus must be addressed, but it should not be at the expense of good, solid budget decisions that will affect every taxpayer. Nothing should be rushed through because of the response to this crisis. It will end. What we don’t want is to be left with the remnants of bad policy that we will have to live with after the fact.
I am looking for a budget extender, so we will have time to examine all of the proposals and debate them before we are asked to vote. Either that, or we should have a bare-bones budget that leaves out all of the controversial things – such as the legalization of marijuana and a bill that would limit the rights of municipalities for home-rule.
The New York state budget is no place for policy, and this is no time to be shoving every conceivable spending item in the 10 bills that we are expected to vote upon in a normal budget process. We hear that is the process that will be followed. My fellow Assembly Minority Conference members agree that the message to the majority has to be: Don’t put policy in the budget.
As taxpayers of New York state, we should expect nothing less from our leaders than to understand what we are going through personally and in our professional lives. We shouldn’t be rushing through something this important just to get it done without careful examination.
Assemblyman Brian Manktelow represents the state's 130th Assembly District.
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