Albany, NY – Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern, Rockland County) today issued the following statement in response to Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget Presentation:
“Governor Cuomo’s budget blueprint devoted welcome attention to several critical issues I believe should be priorities for our state, and provides a suitable starting point to begin New York’s budget-writing process.
“I was pleased the Governor recommitted to funding job-creating infrastructure investments such as the New York Works Fund, which will help make projects like the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement a reality at long last.
“Also encouraging was his promise to unleash a second, fully-funded wave of economic development grants through the Regional Economic Development Councils. I stand ready to work with and advocate for Rockland County businesses in this process so that they have a greater voice in the competition for these funds.
“As it concerns our cash-strapped municipalities now living under the tax cap, I welcome Governor Cuomo’s pledge to have the state take on progressively larger amounts of increases to county Medicaid costs over the next three years. This essential step towards mandate relief is not as comprehensive as I have previously advocated for and would still prefer, but is nevertheless a step in the right direction.
“On the issue of providing quality, affordable health care, I am heartened the Governor has taken up the cause of putting health care exchanges in to place. This long-overdue reform will bring much-need federal funding in to New York State while also helping to lower costs for small businesses that insure their employees.
“It is further reassuring that the Governor’s proposal provides $93 million toward child care subsidies, helping to offset a shortfall in federal aid for these subsidies that would have fallen hard on the backs of working parents and their kids.
“Finally, the Governor’s commitment to funding energy infrastructure projects that bring upstate power to downstate communities is greatly appreciated. Only through such an investment can we hope to lay the groundwork for the eventual decommissioning of Indian Point.
“I stand ready to work with Governor Cuomo, as well as my colleagues in the Assembly and Senate, to institute a budget framework that is fair, fiscally responsible, and dedicated to putting New Yorkers back to work.
“Today, Governor Cuomo put forth a sweeping set of proposals that I believe will, on a whole, help move New York in the right direction.
“His emphasis on and plans for economic development stand to put thousands more New Yorkers to work, and I stand ready to work with the Governor to achieve this goal wherever and whenever possible.
“I am thrilled the Governor has redoubled his pledge to invest in job-creating infrastructure projects, most notably in building a new Tappan Zee bridge. The scale and cost of this project will require his active and determined leadership, and I welcome his involvement in making this project a reality at long last.
“The Governor’s desire to unleash a second round of grants from the regional economic development councils is also welcome news, and I hope that Rockland County will be given greater attention in this process, to which I recommit myself to advocating for our local businesses as it proceeds.
“Furthermore, I applaud the Governor for pledging to expand assistance for minority and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs). These firms, many of them small businesses, have the potential to power our economic recovery, and it is essential we give them the support necessary to succeed. From my post as Chair of the Assembly Task Force on Women’s Issue, I pledge to partner with the Governor to advance their cause.
“Key to economic development, as the Governor noted, is also a renewed commitment to strengthening public education in New York State. I appreciate the Governor’s attention to this issue, and if he is serious about lobbying for our students, I would urge him to restore funding for cash-strapped schools in order to keep teachers in classrooms and class sizes small. Nevertheless, where it is possible and responsible, I look forward to working with Governor to make sound reforms to our education system that can strengthen our schools.
“Another way to make sure our schools are among the best in the nation is to help them be able to live within the tax cap, and it’s why I was heartened to hear the Governor reiterate his support for mandate relief. It is critical we remove unfunded mandates if we expect our local schools and municipalities to cope with the cap, and I will do everything in my power to assist the Governor in this effort.
“Also on the issue of taxes, it was reassuring to hear the Governor propose a new tax reform and finance commission. If we, as a state, are going to live up to our dual obligations of fiscal responsibility and meeting the needs of New Yorkers, we must ensure the tax system is both fair and sufficient to support this goal.
“Likewise, I was pleased to learn of the Governor’s plan to bring increased amounts of upstate electricity to downstate communities such as Rockland County. Accomplishing this will not only increase jobs and diversify our power-generation base, but allow us to lay the groundwork for the eventual decommissioning of Indian Point. In as much as it will help achieve this target, I stand with the Governor on this issue.
“Finally, as it concerns the need to protect our environmental safety and water quality, I remain committed to imposing a moratorium on hydrofracking, despite the Governor’s remarks on the matter.
“Overall, Governor Cuomo has offered New Yorkers a bold and ambitious vision for 2012 and beyond. I know there is much common ground on which to advance this agenda, and I stand ready to work with him, as well as my colleagues in the Legislature, to increase opportunity, fairness, and economic security for all New Yorkers in the year ahead.”