The governor has laid before us an ambitious and comprehensive budget proposal that aims to close the $10 billion deficit without any new taxes or fees, reform our property tax system, reduce state spending and make our state a leaner, more efficient and effective place to live and do business.
While I applaud the governor’s initiative, the address was short on details. I am particularly interested in learning more specifics about the governor’s “revenue enhancements,” which he predicts will raise $8.9 billion through “tax modernizations,” a new fee, and “non-recurring actions.”
We must make sure, as we continue to review the proposal, learn more details, and get answers to our questions that this budget proposal does not merely shift the burden for state spending from one source to another.
For example, while schools are clearly going to feel the full effect of this leaner budget proposal—which proposes an across-the-board education cut of $1.5 billion for 2010-11—what mandate relief are we providing? Especially during these difficult economic times, we should be giving schools more freedom to spend their valuable dollars in the classroom where kids need it the most, not on paperwork or administrative mandates.
The governor did mention that the current school aid formula has been unfair to high-needs districts. I will urge him to present a bill that will provide the much-needed relief to high-needs districts who have been most hurt by cuts in school aid.
Local governments also are in desperate need of mandate relief and reform. While the governor plans to decrease Medicaid funding by close to $1 billion in 2011-12, who will pick up the tab for the required services? Additionally, the governor proposes to reduce Aid to Municipalities (AIM) outside of New York City by 2 percent. We cannot allow the cost to shift to local governments who inevitably will be forced to raise property taxes even higher.
I am very disappointed Governor Cuomo cut the Tug Hill Commission from his budget. I hope to work with my neighboring Assembly and Senate colleagues to preserve the Tug Hill Commission and the invaluable work which they provide to our communities.
As the governor tries to make our state more efficient, more affordable and more economically viable for job creation, I intend to be a willing partner and look forward to continuing to review his proposal and budget negotiations. I also will work to keep the residents of Oneida and Oswego counties informed about the process and the specific proposals that affect us as they are uncovered. I would like to hear from you with your reaction to the budget and your specific funding concerns. Please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or share your ideas with me online on Facebook.