From the Right: Gov. Hochul’s budget giveaways

From the Right: Gov. Hochul’s budget giveaways
George Marlin

 After announcing a $237 billion budget deal had been reached with the state Legislature’s radical leftists, Gov. Kathy Hochul made this statement: “Each of us came to the table with really strongly held beliefs, but in the interest of our state, we pulled it together to deliver in a really collaborative way. And I will say we don’t always see that here.”

What a lot of baloney.

The only interests accommodated were those of the Public Employee Unions.

As for spending, the budget has grown by an astonishing 35% since the 2019 pre-COVID $175 billion spending plan. The state’s structural budget is now projected to be north of $16 billion.

Hochul has permitted spending to grow at an unsustainable rate despite an anemic economy that grew by only 0.7% last year—vs. 2.5% nationally — and declining revenue from the biggest source of taxes: Wall Street.

Financial services tax revenues have declined due to 5,000 industry jobs moving to low-tax states and bonus payouts dropping from $42.7 billion in 2020 to $33.8 billion in 2023.

But the scary economic trends didn’t matter to Albany power brokers. As Nicole Gelinas, of the Manhattan Institute, quipped, Albany has been “obviously preparing their next round of milking, while the cow is already part way out of the barn door.”

The budget also sticks it to New York City’s taxpayers.

Mayor Eric Adams’ request that Albany pick up half the tab of the projected $12 billion in migrant costs was rejected. The budget throws him a measly bone—$2.4 billion to house, feed, and clothe over 180,000 migrants.

With commercial property and Wall Street taxes falling out of bed, the city will probably have to cut essential services to cover the costs of onerous “Sanctuary City” laws.

Albany also surrendered to NYC’s United Federation of Teachers.

While Mayor Adams’ control of NYC’s public schools has been extended for two years, his authority has been severely curtailed.

The Board of Regents—which is controlled by the state Legislature—will now run the city’s Panel for Education, not the mayor. (The panel is empowered to approve or reject union contracts.)

There’s more.

Even though the city’s school enrollment has declined by 200,000, to protect UFT jobs the Legislature has directed the city to spend an additional $1.9 billion annually to procure more classroom space and to hire more teachers to accommodate the mandated smaller class size.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who convinced the Legislature in 2002 to establish mayoral control of schools, had this reaction to Albany’s actions: “It’s a shameless betrayal of the city’s nearly 1 million students that will undermine the progress the city’s schools have made and harm the next generation, leaving them without the skills they need to succeed in future careers—and leaving too many trapped in poverty and tempted by crime.”

Hochul’s budget plan to cut education aid statewide due to declining school enrollment got nowhere.

After the UFT balked, the governor not only stripped the proposal out of the budget but agreed to additional school spending. (Long Island school aid will increase by over $200 million.)

Reacting to the education budget, Ken Girardin, of the Empire Center for Public Policy noted, “The decision to keep filling empty classrooms with state money reflects lawmakers’ commitment to pouring cash instead of scrutiny into the system that’s spending more than any other state….”

Another costly item buried in the budget is the pension giveaway to the public employee unions.

The “Tier 6” reform—championed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2012—that shored up the pension system and included benefit changes that would save state and municipal governments $113 billion over 30 years, was emasculated.

“There is no justifying this giveaway, which will cost over $4 billion,” the Empire Center has noted. “It is a heist from current and future taxpayers that will push property taxes higher and diminish public services. New York employees already get more generous benefits (on top of collecting Social Security) than any private sector group.”

The budget abuses and giveaways I have described are only the tip of the fiscal iceberg.

More on Gov. Hochul’s egregious tax and spend budget in my next column.

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