I have continued to challenge the business-as-usual approach of Albany, and I believe this year’s state budget is the progress both middle-class families and small businesses have been looking for. The 2012-13 budget accomplished a vision that both Governor Cuomo and I share: no new taxes. In addition, the budget promotes economic development with meaningful investments to our roads, bridges and other local initiatives and limits spending. As a whole, this is a good budget for the Capital District.
But while it may be a good budget, it’s far from perfect. Lawmakers have a long way to go to restore fiscal sanity in the Empire State. First, we must cap spending for future economic growth and prosperity. Next, fix the toxic Medicaid program that consumes over one-third of the total state budget. And, most important, deliver unfunded mandate relief to our schools and municipalities. If Albany continues to suffocate our communities with unfunded mandates, residents will foot the bill in the form of higher taxes and fewer essential services.
While the legislature was able to increase school aid by $221 million for a final total of $805 million, we also must address the convoluted and confusing way school aid is delivered to our schools so Upstate and rural schools get their fair share. I’m hopeful we can address unfunded state mandates before the conclusion of this legislative session.