ALBANY — Republicans seeking to unseat Governor Hochul are not fans of her proposed $216 billion budget.
Several high-profile Republicans have taken issue with the governor’s budget plan, accusing Hochul of trying to claw its way out of the COVID crisis and at the same time not providing enough economic relief to average New Yorkers.
Rep. Lee Zeldin (RN.Y.), Long Island’s presumptive GOP gubernatorial frontrunner, attacked the budget as a continuation of “tax and spend, Albany knows the best mindset.”
“Albany’s endless assault on the pocketbooks of hard-working New Yorkers has been relentless and unsustainable,” Zeldin said. “This is one of the main reasons why New York leads the nation in percentage population loss and why every day more and more New Yorkers are reaching their breaking point and fleeing the state for good.”
Despite Zeldin’s claim, Hochul’s plan includes several tax cuts, including $2.2 billion in one-time property tax refunds for low- and middle-income homeowners.
Hochul also proposes deferring tax cuts planned for 2025 until next year.
Former Westchester County manager Rob Astorino, also organizing a race for the executive mansion, took similar umbrage with Hochul’s proposals.
“It’s a classic Albany status quo budget – special interests get whatever they want and taxpayers are patronized and then stuck with the bill,” he said. “When I’m governor, we’ll audit every penny of the state budget, cut waste and redundancy, reduce our debt, cut taxes for real, and cap spending.”
While Hochul called for big cash infusions for pandemic recovery efforts, like support for healthcare workers and struggling businesses, much of what she offered is covered by federal relief funds.
Hochul said on Tuesday his plan would maintain a balanced budget and project no gaps or deficits for the next five years and that the current surplus would store more money in the state reserve fund for rainy days. .
“For the first time ever, with smart planning, New York won’t have a year-over-year gap,” Hochul said. “All of these commitments are either one-time expenditures or are supported by the expectation of reasonable revenue growth, as projected by our budget division.”
The attacks come as campaign finance revelations reveal that Hochul has amassed a campaign war chest exceeding $21 million as she seeks a full term and faces a Democratic primary in June.
Hochul’s challengers collected only a fraction of his record loot.
On the Republican side, Zeldin has about $5.5 million in his campaign coffers after making $4.3 million in contributions over the past five months.
Astorino, who previously mounted a failed gubernatorial bid for former Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2014, has about $1.3 million. Andrew Giuliani, the son of former mayor Rudy Giuliani, made about $188,000 in contributions.
The governor’s main opponents have also struggled to match his fundraising efforts.
Rep. Thomas Suozzi (DN.Y.), who called for state investigations into Hochul over reports linked to his use of state planes to attend campaign events, has a little more than $5 million in his account.
New York City public attorney Jumaane Williams, meanwhile, only raised $189,221 for his bid.
Williams, who put together a fairly competitive lieutenant governor’s run against Hochul in 2018, also took aim at Hochul’s budget proposal this week.
Unlike Republican critics, Williams called on Hochul to find other ways to raise funds to support additional efforts to help struggling New Yorkers.
“The governor’s insistence that we cannot create long-term programs because of a lack of funding is undermined by his refusal to include common-sense revenue-raising measures in his budget,” he said in a statement. “We need a budget and an approach that allows for long-term investments that improve people’s lives – not just for a year, but for life.”