BY ASSEMBLYMAN BRIAN KOLB
“We have the power, but do they have the will? It’s time for the Legislature to regain its mojo.”
I said those words about three years ago. I was trying to inspire some urgency in my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do what our constituents elected us to do- promote reform efforts and provide vigorous oversight of an executive that was stepping all over us.
Democrats in the Legislature never did quite find their mojo. They certainly didn’t have it last night. Rather than make difficult choices during a budget process complicated by nosediving revenues and a public health emergency, Democrats in the Senate and Assembly avoided accountability and handed the governor unprecedented power over the state’s finances. This budget gives the governor the power to claw back aid to schools, local governments and healthcare programs with minimal legislative oversight. What kind of representative wants to punt their ability to fight for funding for the most important organizations in their communities?
The Democrats settled the governor’s political scores for him by passing a provision that would pave the way for the elimination of most of the state’s third parties. They made sure that the governor’s Hollywood donors got a return on their investment by passing hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate welfare for film producers. They didn’t forget about themselves completely. They also authorized $100 million in taxpayer funding for political campaigns.
What they did forget about was the fact that millions of New Yorkers across the state are dealing with an unprecedented crisis. Now was not the time to cut funding for healthcare programs. Now was not the time to cut funding that helps seniors afford prescription drugs. Now was not the time to block a Republican amendment that would’ve provided small businesses teetering on the edge of solvency with hundreds of millions of dollars in grants, tax credits and zero-interest loans.
I voted against this budget. Not only was it crafted in secret, it failed to provide us with a sound fiscal plan for facing the unprecedented crisis that’s upon us. Until Democrats in Albany realize that they’re a co-equal branch of government, until they realize that their constituents deserve transparency and until they treat taxpayers with respect, we’ll continue to get the same results.
There is some good news. In November, every single New Yorker will get a chance to decide if this is the kind of government they want.
What do you think? I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook.