Sen. Tom O’Mara, R-Big Flats, and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, R-Corning, spoke out against Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state democrats over the recently-passed 2019-2020 state budget, which they say “pulls the foundation out from under local roads and bridges throughout this state.”
The final 2019-2020 state budget adopted Monday does not include additional CHIPS funding and also cuts $65 million in “Extreme Winter Recovery” funds that assist municipalities with repairing infrastructure that has been damaged and degraded due to winter conditions.
“In a state budget allocating hundreds of billions of dollars, including billions of dollars alone for downstate mass transit, state Democrats cut funding for one of government’s fundamental responsibilities, which is the improvement and maintenance of local roads and bridges,” said O’Mara and Palmesano in a joint statement.
O’Mara and Palmesano helped lead a group of more than 600 local highway superintendents and highway department employees representing regions throughout New York to request an additional $150 million in CHIPS funding, which would have brought total CHIPS funding up to $588 million.
The group also requested the restoration of the $65 million in “Extreme Winter Recovery,” which was approved in last year’s budget.
Ultimately, the budget did not include either proposal.
Palmesano and O’Mara were openly critical of this year’s state budget in general.
“This budget delivers state government at its worst,” they said. “It pulls the foundation out from under local roads and bridges throughout this state. It turns its back on local infrastructure, local economies, local property taxpayers, and local motorists. It’s a disgrace.”
Palmesano was very blunt with his opinion.
“This is the worst budget I’ve seen in my years of being up there,” he said.
In particular, Palmesano was critical of the budget’s freeze on STAR exemption benefits, the addition of new unfunded mandates on municipalities, and the government’s decision to close down three state prisons.
The $175.5 billion state budget was passed in the state legislature Monday. Highlights include a ban on plastic bags beginning March 1, 2020, a $1 billion increase in education funding, a $700 million increase in funding for health care programs such as Medicaid, making the 2 percent property tax cap on local property taxes permanent, a ban on the release of mug shots by state law enforcement agencies, the elimination of cash bail for non-violent arrests, a pay raise for Gov. Cuomo and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, and more.