Although the Governor’s tone today was one of unity, coming together and hope for a prosperous economic future, I was alarmed by the Governor’s list of priorities, which included the very same issues he made significant cuts to in his 2009-10 Executive Budget proposal.
While I agree with the Governor that “this is the moment” to take control, creating over 130 new taxes, totaling nearly $4 billion, is not the solution. Nor is passing along over $1 billion “cuts” to be funded by local governments and taxpayers. In fact, these are the exact measures that would destroy our state’s future economic prosperity if adopted.
We cannot pass the buck to local governments and taxpayers. However, that’s exactly what the Governor proposes to do, including over $3 million in cuts from Genesee County schools, $41.8 million from schools in Monroe County, $12.7 million from Niagara County schools, and $1.3 million from schools in Orleans County. This is in addition to over $7 million in Medicaid unfunded mandates.
This Executive proposal is going to cause property taxes to skyrocket. But the Governor wants to couple this by cutting the STAR program and eliminating the property tax rebate check program.
Now is the time to change this. The Legislature must come together, both sides of the aisle, both houses, to protect the economic viability of the individual taxpayers of this state; but more than that, we must come together with a shared vision to provide for the economic success of our state at a business level. This means we must address the communities of our state outside of New York City. And this is the area that I believe has been most greatly ignored by both the Governor’s budget proposal and his address today.
Upstate communities, especially Western New York, need help: businesses need a reason to stay, residents need their jobs and the assurances that their jobs will be there tomorrow, and we must put together a plan to retain our young residents who are still fleeing our state at a record pace. As such, in the coming weeks, I will be announcing some of my ideas to help the Governor and our legislative leaders, all of whom are from downstate (with the exception of the Assembly Minority Leader), come together to address this problem, and I hope that my colleagues in both houses are ready to roll up their sleeves with me and get to work.