This year’s current $10 billion budget deficit is only adding to the overwhelming uncertainty in our state’s financial future. Families across the state are finding alternative ways to save and cut costs. Shouldn’t our state’s leaders be doing the same? If New York continues to pursue its current tax-and-spend addiction, it will only further our descent into long-term debt. The budget deadline is April 1 and it is time to get serious about finding innovative solutions to our fiscal crisis.
Using sacrifice and creative problem-solving, we can emerge as a stronger and more efficient government. Innovative cost-saving ideas and strategies are essential to trimming wasteful spending.
Here in Rochester, great fiscal solutions already are being debated. Local school districts have discussed pooling their health insurance with surrounding towns and villages in order to cut costs. Meanwhile, East Rochester is exploring a consolidated government campus by combining the village hall, police station, and library. Retailers also are being sought for the new space in order to create jobs and increase local revenues.
Governor Cuomo has proposed local-government grants to support redesign and consolidation. The Local Government Efficiency Grant offers $25,000 per municipality for planning or implementation of consolidations. In addition, the Local Government Re-Organization Empowerment Grant Program provides $100,000 to any local government which has proven its commitment to cutting costs with studies, plans and implementations.
These programs are just the beginning. The incentives to local governments are important in reducing spending and lowering taxes. Successful local consolidation proposals may serve as an example to other local governments throughout the state. With the April 1 budget deadline approaching, I will continue to update you with information as we try to create a new future for New York State.