Weekly Column from Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay
PULASKI, NY — There are few instances in recent memory that so profoundly illustrate what not to do when addressing a public policy crisis. From Joe Biden’s failures at the southern border, to the empty “sanctuary” promises of Gov. Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams, to the lack of communication and transparency at all levels of government, New York’s migrant crisis shows no signs of slowing down. No part of this emergency was handled properly, and the coming months will almost certainly bring more challenges for local officials and communities.
It was less than a year ago, last October, when Mayor Adams initially suggested the city would need $1 billion to pay for shelter and services to offer incoming migrants. At the time, this was an eye-opening request. But now, after 10 months of Democrats’ continued dysfunction, the mayor is estimating the costs will reach at least $12 billion over the next three years.
This is a staggering sum. Gov. Hochul and Mayor Adams have each declared states of emergency on the migrant crisis, allowing them to spend taxpayer money without the normal oversight measures in place. As Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation pointed out in a recent letter to city and state officials, the contracts to develop the emergency infrastructure needed to house the migrants are being awarded without a competitive bidding process.
We witnessed similar missteps under the COVID emergency. Gov. Hochul was able to award a $637 million state contract to a loyal campaign donor, forcing taxpayers to pay more than twice the market rate for test kits. In an effort to avoid similar situations in the migrant crisis, Assemblyman Ed Ra (R-Franklin Square) introduced a bill – A.7508 – earlier this year, yet the effort was roundly rejected by the Majority Conferences.
The strain this massive migrant influx is going to have on our communities cannot be overstated. Already, school district officials around the state are scrambling to come up with a plan for September, which is just a few weeks away. Education advocates, rightfully, have demanded transparency with respect to how these children will be treated, where their mandated immunizations will come from, how much it will cost to educate them and a host of other considerations associated with classroom management.
Ultimately, for as much money as this is going to cost New Yorkers, the true tragedy here is that those who are responsible for creating this mess have put all of us in danger—and that includes the migrants. Right now, the strain on these services is substantial and growing, and that puts us all at risk. Simply put, this entire situation was a disaster at every stage – from the White House to City Hall. It has jeopardized the well-being of New York City, communities across the state and the thousands of migrants here with no real plan to house, educate and protect them. We are facing a genuine crisis, and New York’s leaders have done nothing but illustrate what not to do during one.
If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office. My office can be reached by mail at 19 Canalview Mall, Fulton, NY 13069 and by email at email@example.com. You may also find me, Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, on Facebook or on Twitter at @WillABarclay.