Kicking The Costs ( And Taxpayers ) Down The Road

If one thing has become clear in New York State government, it is the admonition many of us shared well before the start of the 2019 legislative session, warning taxpayers: Hold on to your wallets.

Following the elections last November, when New York State government fell under one-party, Democrat control, Governor Cuomo crowed that he felt “liberated” without a State Senate Republican Majority left to stand in his way. The governor’s feeling was shared, undoubtedly, by the longstanding Assembly Democrat majority and, of course, the new Senate Democrat leadership.

Especially, it appears, when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars. The state comptroller recently reported that state spending under the 2019-20 state budget increased by nearly three times the current inflation rate.

According to an analysis from the Empire Center for Public Policy (empirecenter.org) – an analysis, by the way, which relied on the comptroller’s recent update on the state’s short- and long-term financial picture – the new state budget “hikes spending 5.7 percent, projects a $14 billion debt increase over five years, and is balanced by an accounting gimmick.”

In short, the state of New York’s finances, combined with the hard-left direction of New York State politics, does not look pretty for future generations of state taxpayers.

Liberated, indeed. Consider just a small sampling of what the Democrats’ newfound power to spend taxpayer dollars freely has produced over the past eight months:

    • The “DREAM Act” to provide taxpayer-funded college tuition assistance to illegal immigrant families;
    •  Significant reform to the state’s electoral process, including early voting, an unfunded mandate that promises to increase costs for local taxpayers and enhance the risk of voter fraud;
    • Increased spending on Medicaid by upwards of $1 billion.

On the way? Using taxpayers dollars to finance political campaigns, commonly known as public campaign financing, at a cost projected to be in excess of $200 million of taxpayer dollars each election cycle. Legalizing recreational marijuana and creating a big new state bureaucracy to oversee the legalization. Maybe even a state-level, universal health care system that many believe will simply break the bank.

Additionally, let’s not forget the recently enacted, so-called “Green New Deal” that, among other actions, seeks to make New York’s electricity 100% carbon neutral over the next two decades. It may be a new deal but I’m not sure it’s a fair deal for future taxpayers or energy consumers for whom the cost of energy will rise. It is a massive undertaking. It calls for a huge investment in new technologies and infrastructure with no cost/benefit analysis whatsoever.

At a legislative hearing earlier this year examining the governor’s proposed budget, I raised the specter of state borrowing and debt, particularly the burden being kicked down the road to future generations of decision makers and, especially, taxpayers.

New York already has America’s highest state and local government debt per capita. Most of it is accomplished through state borrowing, significantly adding to future state debt and, most egregiously, being heaped onto the backs of future taxpayers who will have to deal with it long after Governor Cuomo and most current legislative leaders have left office.

I said it then, I’ll say it again: The new, Democrat direction for New York State is producing billions upon billions of dollars of short- and long-term spending requiring billions upon billions of dollars in new taxes, fees, and, especially, borrowing for future generations of state and local taxpayers.

So, yes, hold on to your wallets.

The short-term pursuit of a hard-left, socialist, liberal political agenda appears to be the priority over a long-term, sustainable future for upstate, middle-class communities, families, workers, businesses, and taxpayers.

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