As Governor Spitzer unveiled his 2008-09 Executive Budget, he acknowledged a $4.4 billion deficit. The Governorís proposed spending plan includes over 5% in growth, for a total budget of $124.3 billion. Although he vowed there would be no new taxes, he spoke of closing loopholes and raising fees. These actions will increase the burden on local businesses and are in reality a tax increase by a different name. I will closely review these proposals.
The Governor spoke about real property tax relief, particularly for senior citizens. However, STAR rebate checks fall short of being adequate real property tax reform. He did propose that the State assume more responsibility for preschool special education, which will provide relief to counties. Over the coming weeks as we await the Committee on Mandate report, we will be carefully reviewing the details of the Governorís proposal.
I am pleased the Governor reaffirmed his commitment to assist the employees affected by facility closures to find work within the same proximity. As we face the possible closure of Camp Gabriels and the Adirondack Residential Center, it is critical these dedicated employees find comparable employment close to home.
The State map on doctor shortages outlined the entire Adirondack Park and Champlain Valley regions as areas of shortage. I look forward to working with our medical centers and physicians to recruit and retain physicians to our area, with support from the Governor.
Budget negotiations now begin between the members of the Legislature. We must hold the line on spending, while providing property tax relief to our residents. This will be a difficult budget session, but I hope we can reach consensus on a budget that benefits the taxpayers and completes the process on time.