Brooke Harris is an Allegany County Legislator from Alfred and is the Chair of the Budget Committee. He offers his opinion and analysis of the recently passed New York State Budget for 2021.
This week New York State enacted a $212 billion budget for fiscal year 2021, an increase of $18 billion over 2020. As you know, the State’s budget has a direct and significant impact on county operations. Here’s one man’s opinion on some of the good, the bad, and the ugly, and how Albany’s budget will affect Belmont and property taxpayers…
The budget restores most of the state funding to local governments that was withheld in 2020. Initially, Albany withheld 20% of their promised state aid across most departments. They will reimburse 75% of that, leaving counties shorted by only 5% for last year.
The budget removes the authority of the Executive (Cuomo) or the Department of Budget to withhold state funding to local governments if their revenue projections fall short.
Funding for the Office for the Aging’s “unmet needs” has been significantly increased. Those funds are used primarily to reduce wait-lists for the County’s Meals on Wheels program. The State also eliminates the previously required 25% local match for those funds.
The budget fails to grant permanent sales tax authority to counties, which means that each county will continue to have to beg for their existing sales tax rates every couple of years.
Albany has declined to allow upstate local governments an expanded menu of investment options for their cash, despite permitting those options for New York City.
The budget continues the policy of diverting local sales tax revenue to state obligations, including Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) and the Distressed Hospitals funding pool.
Albany failed to provide an Early Intervention covered lives assessment fee, which would have significantly reduced the program’s burden on local taxpayers.
Good for Gamblers: The State has authorized the expansion of sports betting in the State to include mobile betting. They hope to have the system up and running by the start of the NFL season.
Bad for Boozers: The State declined to extend the ABC law to allow alcohol permits to movie theater operators.
Good for Low-Income Web Surfers: The budget includes the creation of a program offering subsidized broadband internet access for $15 per month to low-income households.
As you can imagine, this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the state budget’s scope and effect on Allegany County and its citizens. It also includes expanded COVID relief funding to business owners, unemployment benefits to previously unqualified residents, wide-ranging environmental and clean-energy initiatives, extends marginal middle-class income tax reductions and increased taxes on the wealthy. A more in-depth analysis can be found at www.nysac.org/nysbudget.
*Hey Uncle Bill Hendrick…. I posted this after you went to bed so you’d have something to read in the morning 🙂