Photo Courtesy of #CLOSErikers
Stringer said “this President and this Congress are determined to punish states like ours, by crippling our economic competitiveness and our legacy of progressive leadership.”
By Michael V. Cusenza
City Comptroller Scott Stringer this week used a portion of his testimony in Albany on the proposed 2018-2019 State Executive Budget to tear into President Donald Trump and members of Congress, who, according to the city’s fiscal watchdog, “are determined to punish states like ours, by crippling our economic competitiveness and our legacy of progressive leadership.”
Stringer blasted D.C. for passing recent measures that, he has indicated, will have a profoundly negative effect on New York.
“They have as Governor Cuomo put it, launched a missile at the heart of our state’s economy with the federal tax bill. I want to reiterate – the difficulties of meeting this challenge cannot be underestimated,” Stringer said. “But it’s our responsibility to homeowners and taxpayers across the state to ensure state and local governments can fulfill their functions, despite this assault by the federal government. Whether you live in a high-tax state, or a low-tax state, it’s our schools, our enforcement agencies, our social services that impact lives.”
However, the comptroller characterized the federal tax bill as “only the first clap of thunder in this brewing storm.” Stringer believes Trump’s forthcoming fiscal plan promises to pack a paralyzing punch.
“The budget that President Trump proposed last year would have blown an $850 million hole in our city budget – at least,” he said. “We are fortunate that these cuts have not yet materialized, but the threat has by no means disappeared.”
According to Stringer, the president’s budget is set to affect millions of residents: the City Housing Authority, which is home to more than 400,000 New Yorkers, or 5 percent of the city’s population, relies on the federal government for 60 percent of its budget; the public hospital system requires hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid to continue to serve the uninsured—and that population is likely to grow even larger with the end of the individual mandate via the new tax act.
Stringer said in the face of challenges authored by the feds, it’s the State that must step in to help protect the city’s “core values,” including: continued investment in public schools and pre-K programs; adopting early voting and fully funding it; support the governor’s bold agenda to overhaul the State’s bail laws; and examining the benefits and challenges of legalizing recreational marijuana.
“If you’re gonna toke it, tax it,” Stringer deadpanned.
The comptroller rounded out his remarks by addressing that political hot potato: the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and how to fund the revolution of the city subway system.
“As we move forward, we must employ complete transparency in how emergency funds are used. And then we must come up with new, permanent funding solutions for the MTA. No option should be off the table,” Stringer said, including a new $3.5 billion Transportation Bond Act, and the congestion-pricing proposal from the Fix NYC task force. “And let’s dispense with the idea that somehow New Yorkers are not paying our fair share of the costs of the subways and buses. Through fares and tolls, taxes and subsidies, New York City residents contribute well over $10 billion annually to the MTA. We are willing to pay our fair share – as long as we get a fair return.”