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Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, speaks on the Assembly floor Thursday in opposition to parts of the state budget.



Voting has begun on state budget bills after the process was delayed by a hacking incident.

Three of the budget bills were passed Thursday with additional bills expected to be voted on Friday. The process has been made more difficult because the Legislative Bill Drafting Commission — which drafts and publishes the bills that will make up the fiscal year 2025 spending plan — was hacked. According to the New York Post, the hack slowed the process of publishing the budget bills before a backup system was implemented. The commission is responsible for putting bills in their final standard format and uploading them into centralized software for lawmakers and the public to access them.

When Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, and his fellow legislators did get the bills so they could begin voting Thursday, the Jamestown Republican wasn’t happy with what he found.

“What I find frustrating in this bill is what’s not being done as well as what’s being done,” Goodell said.

A.8805C/S.8503C is 97 pages long and includes more protections for retail workers and tougher penalties for retail theft, changes to the state’s alcohol control laws and tougher enforcement of unlicensed marijuana shops. Goodell said the crackdown on unlicensed marijuana shops makes little sense when the state decriminalized the possession of marijuana years ago. He also said the taxes included in the legal marijuana market mean the state is going to have a hard time stamping out the illegal market.

“The total tax on legal marijuana is 22%, plus of course you’ve got worker’s comp, unemployment, FICA, paid family leave and everything else and we expect the legal marijuana stores to compete successfully against the people who’ve got five pounds in their house who don’t pay any tax at all, who don’t pay any FICA, who don’t pay any unemployment?” Goodell said. “If you think that business model, with a legal highly taxed entity is going to beat the illegal market, you don’t have any business experience because the illegal market undersells them and brings more for a better price.”

State Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, also questioned changes to the state’s marijuana policies included in the budget. The state is planning to reduce tax revenue from medical marijuana, something Borrello took issue with, while arguing the legalization of marijuana has yet to produce any tangible economic benefit for the state. Borrello said the state is going to bail out marijuana farmers as part of the budget – an action he supported – but the process to set up legal markets, enforce them and create an Office of Cannabis Management to oversee the entire enterprise has been far too costly.

“The only place we’re actually making revenue is medical marijuana and now we’re going to reduce that,” he said. “Four million dollars may not sound like a lot of money but our budget is made up of lots of little revenues, really, to create the revenue that we need. But more importantly marijuana has been a net negative for New York taxpayers. That’s the bottom line. OVer all we have spent more money than we’ve made and there doesn’t appear to be any end in sight right now.”


Goodell welcomed the protections for retail workers and tougher laws on those who sell goods found to have been stolen from retail stores, but said the budget bill isn’t dealing with what he sees as the root cause of the retail crime explosion that has hit the state, but hit New York City and other bigger cities in the state the hardest.

“We talk about retail theft and I think those changes are positive and I commend my colleagues,” Goodell said. “Yet we have district attorneys who issue Day 1 memos listing all the crimes they were elected to enforce that they will not enforce, including retail crime, and then we see an explosion. We eliminated bail for over 400 crimes and we made it extraordinarily difficult for district attorneys to meet the discovery requirements under extraordinarily tough circumstances and then we say. ‘Why are all these serious crimes going up?’ Before my colleagues correct me by saying rape, robbery, murder and violent crimes go down, I say we still have bail for those.”


A.8808C/S.8308 makes changes to place more focus on agrivoltaic projects that can provide solar power without making farmland useless. It also increases clean air permits that Goodell said simply add to the cost of doing business and living in New York state. It also includes changes to the way renewable energy projects are handled, overhauling a previous overhaul of the siting process under former Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Goodell opposed the changes, saying they simply increase the loss of local control over renewable energy siting that began under Cuomo.

“This bill continues and expands the Article 10 process we started a few years ago to eliminate local control over green energy projects without adding provisions that say we should focus on green energy where it does the least damage, like on brownfield sites, right? Or abandoned industrial sites?” Goodell said.

Goodell was also critical of the state’s continuation of the film tax credit at the expense of other programs that could help more businesses in the state that provide permanent jobs. A.8809/S.8309 also increases taxes on little cigars and makes changes to the state’s marijuana taxes on THC in edible marijuana products.

“Often I know people, when we stand up here and say we need to focus our priorities on what’s important and we need to cut spending, we need to cut taxes, we need to help businesses with the unemployment fund which has a huge multibillion dollar deficit, an appropriate question back is where are you getting the money from?” Goodell said. “Right now New York state spends $1.1 billion in support of the film and theater industry. And these by definition are temporary jobs.

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