WXXI AM News

Local Assemblymen Morelle, Kolb react to state budget proposal

Apr 10, 2017

Credit wxxinews

Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders agreed on a $153 billion state budget proposal this weekend, which included increases to direct care funding, the arrival of Uber and Lyft ride-share services in upstate New York and one of the most talked about - free college tuition for middle class families.

Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle said over 30,000 families in New York will qualify.

"At no time in human history is what you know and your skill sets, knowledge base, more important to your economic future than it is today. So college affordability is a very big issue, so we'll pay for it out of the general fund."

Morelle, during a Sunday afternoon news conference in Rochester, said even though the budget took a while to complete, he is happy with it.

But not everyone is a fan of the proposal, including Republican Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb.

"There’s a phenomenal amount of pork barrel spending. With no designation as to where the money will go, what projects, what part of the state, and I don’t think that’s an open and transparent process for the taxpayers when you’re talking about literally talking about hundreds of millions of dollars," the Republican from Canandaigua told WXXI News.

Kolb said it’s the job of the legislature and governor to deliver an on-time budget, and that this year’s delay demonstrated that the system is broken.

One of the most controversial issues was the high profile juvenile justice reform more commonly referred to as "raise the age."

Under the deal, young offenders would no longer be incarcerated in adult prisons and jails but would go to juvenile facilities.

Assemblyman Morelle said this is the best method for effective rehabilitation for young nonviolent offenders.

"They’ll be directed to family court and hopefully we'll find ways of getting them on a better path in their lives. What happens now unfortunately is they’re treated as adults and often times end up with adults who have committed crimes and its basically sending them to school to be better criminals," Morelle said.

Kolb was not a fan of its passing, saying he understood it’s an emotional issue, but from a public safety perspective believes it sends the wrong message.

The agreement would raise the age slowly, to 17 in October 2018 and to 18 a year later.