Skoufis slams Hochul over “broken promises” in state budget (VIDEO)

ALBANY — In a 30-minute speech, State Senator James Skoufis (D, Cornwall) criticized fellow Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul for what he called “broken promises” to Orange County communities affected by 2023 flooding in the recently passed state budget . Skoufis believes that special funds should have been allocated in the budget to places affected by the storm, but that did not happen.

“On July 9, 2023, the east wing of Orange County was the epicenter of a massive storm that made national news,” he said. “The entire town of Highland Falls was wiped out.”

Skoufis said the small village of about 3,600 residents suffered damages totaling $37 million.

The day after the storm, Governor Hochul visited Highland Falls to survey the damage, talk to residents and meet with local officials. Hochul returned for a second time on July 18 to announce financial support. Skoufis says the pledged funds were for a “very small amount of state funding that ultimately helped very, very few people.”

In criticizing Hochul, Skoufis cited her July 18 speech in which she stated, “We are united in our commitment to not just be there the next day when all the attention is on a community and then walk away.”

Skoufis said Hochul’s support for Highland Falls was completely absent during the budget discussions and that the governor failed to implement a plan he put forward that would have delivered aid to the community. In a highly atypical move for a member of the majority party, Skoufis voted against the budget bill that included the missing aid for Orange County.

“While I have been proud to fight for the interests of local residents and taxpayers, the final 2024-2025 budget leaves too much on the table and blatantly ignores the needs of many New Yorkers,” Skoufis said. “The communities affected by last July’s catastrophic floods remain dry in this budget, despite the Governor’s earlier pledge to support them. I will not stop fighting to get the resources and funding we need to meet our obligations to my constituents.”

The federal government provided financial assistance to Highland Falls after the disaster, but not all costs associated with storm damage were covered. In the absence of government funding, municipalities would have to raise money through property taxes to cover unreimbursed expenses.