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Monday, September 25, 2023

NYS Budget Proposal – LWV Issues of Interest


By Lisa Scott | President, League of Women Voters of Suffolk County

Several weeks ago, NYS Gov. Hochul released a $227 billion budget proposal. It is now being negotiated with the NYS Senate and Assembly, potentially exposing more disagreement between progressive legislators and a more fiscally pragmatic liberal governor. The League of Women Voters of NYS, while non-partisan (we neither oppose nor support candidates or parties) does study many issues and will take positions and lobby elected officials on those of concern. We’ve identified several priority issues that will be impacted by budget deliberations. Others will be addressed as bills are introduced in the remaining months of the Jan-June legislative session.

• Funding for County Boards of Election

The League was glad to see that reappropriated funds will continue to be used to upgrade the technology for electronic pollbooks, on-demand ballot printers, and cyber security software upgrades. However, there are still limited funds available for the expansion of early voting poll sites, poll worker training, staffing, upgrading of old systems, and the establishment of new sites. It is not possible for boards to continue to expand voting access without funds devoted to these measures. We ask that a minimum of 20M in funding be allocated to county boards of elections so that they may make the upgrades necessary to effectively run our elections.

• Campaign Finance Reform

The small donor public financing program, administered by the Public Campaign Finance Board (PCFB) at the State Board of Elections, launched on November 9, 2022. The 2024 legislative elections will be its first cycle. While administrative funds have been allocated, the matching funds allocated by the governor are only 25% of the amount needed; another 75M must be allocated to ensure that interested candidates may qualify and receive matching funds

• Bigger Better Bottle Bill and the Packaging Reduction and Recycling Act

Expanding the Bottle Bill is a key solution to address solid waste pollution, rising costs for municipalities, as well as extending the life of landfills around the state. Single-use plastic packaging makes up more than 40% of new plastic manufactured from fossil fuels; after a brief use, it is discarded, where it persists in the environment indefinitely and poses threats to wildlife and human health. The climate impacts of plastic are significant: plastic production, use, and disposal is on track to exceed coal emissions in the U.S. by 2030.

The League also encourages the legislature to remove the current inclusion of packaging reduction attempts in the budget and address the reduction of packaging with the passage of the Packaging Reduction and Recycling Act. This bill would tackle single use plastics and other materials by requiring a 50% reduction in packaging and mandate that remaining materials are reusable, refillable, or truly recyclable (any plastics would need to meet a 70% recycling rate after 12 years, compared with the current rate of just 5%). The League urges all New York State voters to take an interest in these or other subjects of concern to you. Speak with your NYS Senator and NYS Assembly member, or someone on their staff, so that you have a grounding in fiscal matters in both strong economic times, as well as challenging ones. Don’t let others make decisions for you- Governing and allocating resources is not a game to win or lose, it takes understanding and rational analysis.

Lisa Scott
Lisa Scott
President, League of Women Voters of Suffolk County