Members of the New York State Assembly Minority Conference Long Island Delegation today held a public forum in Mineola focusing on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2012-13 executive budget proposal. The Legislators asked the public to weigh in on the proposed budget and discuss how it will affect Long Island residents. Chairing the event was Assemblyman James Conte (R,I,C,WF-Huntington Station). Co-chairing the event were Assemblyman Joseph S. Saladino and Assemblyman Tom McKevitt (R,C,I-East Meadow).
More than 30 local government, health care, education, union and business leaders presented testimony and took questions from the state lawmakers. Speakers included Tim Sullivan, Nassau Deputy County Executive for Finance; Rich Bivone, Chairman of the Long Island Business Council; and Nick LaMorte, Regional President of CSEA/AFSCME.
“We have seen what Governor Cuomo has proposed for this year’s budget. Now let’s hear what the taxpayers want,” said Conte. “Public input during the budget process is extremely important, and I commend today’s participants for sharing their thoughts and ideas about how to make the 2012-13 state budget better for Long Island.”
“It is essential that the public be heard. We have provided this opportunity so the concerns and needs of the people are best represented and that we provide them a strong voice in Albany. My colleagues and I continue to make our priority serving our constituents because the public must come first in terms of the state budget and all ways,” said Saladino, Nassau County Minority Conference Leader. “As this budget process plays out, I will advocate for ways to find comprehensive mandate relief for our local governments and school districts and lessen the financial burden facing property taxpayers.”
“Meeting with local taxpayers and community leaders is the best way to refine our priorities as we move forward with the state budget process,” said McKevitt. “We must ensure that we keep state spending at a manageable level and make certain that our schools are provided with the resources they need to give our children an outstanding education.”
“Last year’s property tax cap was only the beginning in providing real relief for taxpayers,” said Assemblyman David G. McDonough (R,C,I-Merrick). “This hearing will prove important in putting a public face on the importance of further mandate relief and ending state government interference in job creation.”
“The spiraling cost of pensions has put a massive strain on local government finances,” said Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R,C,I-Smithtown). “I look forward to speaking with the public about how pension reform can be beneficial, not only for state employee retirement funds, but in providing choice for employees and real fiscal relief to our overburdened local governments.”
“Budget hearings are an opportunity for residents on Long Island to voice their concerns and opinions,” said Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R,I,C-East Northport). “I look forward to meeting with constituents and listening to their ideas on how we can once again deliver a balanced and on-time state budget.”
“With input from Long Islanders at today's hearing, my colleagues and I will return to Albany to fight for a sound fiscal plan which holds the line on taxes,” said Assemblyman Phil Boyle (R,I,C-Bay Shore).
“Providing meaningful mandate relief, controlling taxes, growing our economy to create jobs and making sure our schools receive their fair share of state aid are my priorities during this budget process,” said Assemblyman Dean Murray (R,C-East Patchogue). “I look forward to hearing input from the community about how we can improve the Governor’s budget to make Long Island an even better place to live and work.”
“Last year, we successfully passed a two percent property tax cap to hold the line on property tax growth; and we repealed a portion of the MTA payroll tax that kept money in the pockets of middle-class families,” said Assemblyman Brian Curran (Lynbrook-14th A.D.). “I am proud of these successes, but join my voice with the countless Nassau County taxpayers demanding more mandate relief and a fair share of school aid funding for our school districts.”
“It is important to get input from the public about the Governor's proposed budget. I have concerns with some areas of his proposal, and it is important to see if the public shares those concerns,” said Assemblyman Al Graf (R,C-Holbrook).
“Many of the views expressed today only strengthen the argument that we need real mandate relief included in this year’s state budget,” said Assemblyman Daniel P. Losquadro (R,C-Shoreham). “Unfunded mandates continue to eat away at local revenues and services, and are the driving factor behind our region’s high property taxes. By reducing unfunded mandates and reforming the state’s Medicaid program and pension system in the 2012-13 state budget, we can begin to make Long Island a more affordable place to live and strengthen our regional economic potential.”
“Education spending is going to be a major issue in this year’s budget,” said Assemblyman Edward P. Ra (21st Assembly District). “I will fight to ensure Long Island receives its fair share of school aid so our students can gain the necessary skills to become future leaders of New York.”