Borrello Votes Against State Budget Bills In Senate
State Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, has voted against all of the state budget bills that have come before the state Senate.
Once voting had wrapped up on Thursday, Borrello issued a news release criticizing the outside policy initiatives intertwined in the budget legislation despite Republicans’ desire to focus the budget solely on the state’s financial issues this year.
Borrello himself called for finances to take center stage in the budget over policy issues more than two weeks ago.
“Our state is at an extraordinarily difficult moment in its history as the COVID-19 pandemic exacts a heavy toll on our citizens, health care sector, economy and virtually every aspect of life,” Borrello said. “”Against this scenario, the need for a transparent, ‘clean’ budget — focused solely on essential fiscal matters and without politically-driven policies — was never more obvious or critical. Disappointingly, we didn’t get that as political expediency trumped transparency. … For these and so many other reasons, I could not vote in favor of this budget. Not only is the process clearly in need of reform, what was produced in this budget were simply new iterations of the same failed, agenda-driven policies that created the flight of residents and businesses to other states, while suppressing economic growth and opportunity.”
One policy initiative Borrello has advocated for over the past year was reforming the bail reform passed as part of the 2019-20 budget. The budget bills do amend bail laws to lengthen the list of crimes subject to bail or pretrial detention and money is set aside for prosecutors and police departments to meet the faster discovery exchanges that were included in the 2019 legislation.
But, Borrello said, the changes approved by the state Legislature could fall victim to the same problems that plagued the 2019 legislation.
“There is no greater example of the danger of folding controversial policy in between the pages of a thousand-plus page fiscal document than last year’s disastrous bail ‘reform’ which thoroughly abandoned public safety in a rush to appease radical activists,” Borrello said. “This issue made a command appearance in this year’s budget, but this time, to ‘fix’ the mistakes of the original bill. Crafted behind closed doors once again without stakeholders around the table, the ‘fix’ lacks the number one provision that law enforcement experts agreed was most critical: restoration of judicial discretion. This is an attempt to fix a fatal wound with a band aid and it won’t work.”
New York State Association of Counties officials on Wednesday lobbied the state to accept $6.7 billion in new federal health care funding included in the first federal COVID-19 stimulus package to help state and local governments through the COVID-19 pandemic. NYSAC officials were hoping the state government would accept the federal funding and then implement the Medicaid Redesign Team II recommendations once the COVID-19 pandemic had passed and federal funding was not available.
Borrello said Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Democrats in the state Legislature chose to try to close the state’s $6 billion Medicaid gap by itself.
“Local governments, who are already hurting financially from the loss of local tax revenue due to the COVID-19 crisis, are looking at unprecedented pain and hard choices under this budget,” Borrello said. “Rather than accept a critically needed $6 billion in emergency federal funding for Medicaid, the Governor chose to decline the funds so he could go ahead with his plan to shift even more of the financial burden to county and city governments who may have no choice but to look to local property taxpayers to help them meet these increased costs.”