Assembly Minority Conference Hosts Budget Hearing

Assembly minority members representing Suffolk and Nassau counties conducted a public hearing to address the impact of Gov. George Pataki’s proposed 2005-06 state budget on Long Island residents. The hearing was held at the Suffolk County Legislative Auditorium in Hauppauge.

Local government officials and community and business leaders presented testimony on how the proposed budget would impact Long Island residents.

"This public session offered state lawmakers an opportunity to hear firsthand how the governor’s budget proposal would impact residents of the two counties, including working families, children and the senior citizen community," said Assemblyman Thomas F. Barraga (R,C,I,WF-West Islip).

Barraga, the ranking minority member of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, said the Suffolk and Nassau county executives also presented testimony.

"This was an important opportunity for me and my Long Island colleagues to solicit information from constituent groups that would be affected by the proposed 2005-06 state budget. The testimony will help provide a roadmap for the ongoing budget negotiations and the spending plan’s direct impact on Long Island," Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R,C,I,WF-East Northport) commented.

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. (R,I,WF-Sag Harbor) said, "This year’s state budget presents critical issues for the people of Long Island. The priorities which are set in Albany will have consequences for local schools, hospitals and governments. In particular, environmental initiatives are the focus of attention in eastern Suffolk County, including funding for the Peconic Bay, farmland preservation and open space conservation. I was glad to receive public input on these important matters."

"The testimony presented provided great insight on the issues facing Long Island today. As we progress through the budget process, I will work to make sure that families, children and seniors throughout Long Island receive their fair share of aid from the state," noted Assemblyman James Conte (R,C-Huntington Station).

"Long Island is a unique region that hosts a vast diversity of social and economic concerns," said Assemblywoman Patricia L. Acampora (R,I,C,WF-Mattituck). "As a delegation, it was and will continue to be important that we listen to residents’ concerns about the governor’s proposed budget to assist us in making the tough decisions ahead."

Assemblyman Joseph Saladino (R,C,I-Massapequa) said, "Watching the bottom line should be our highest priority. Making sure that our residents are provided for without increasing the burden of rising taxes is something I will strive to achieve. This was an encouraging opportunity to disseminate the budget details and help us evaluate Long Island’s priorities."

Assemblywoman Maureen O’Connell (R,C,I-East Williston) said, "The governor’s proposed budget would cut millions of dollars to health care facilities, school districts and municipalities. It’s crucial that we prioritize Long Island issues. This budget hearing afforded us the opportunity to receive public opinion regarding the proposed budget and for concerned residents to share their valued viewpoints."

"A Long Island perspective on the governor’s budget will be helpful to us as legislators," said Assemblyman Fitzpatrick. "I’m happy to have heard from citizens advocating for spending initiatives and those who advocate for tax cuts."

Barraga said he hopes the state Legislature and Pataki can reach agreement on a budget plan by the April 1 start of the new fiscal year.

For further information, contact Mark Woolley, regional director of the Assembly minority Long Island office in Hauppauge, at (631) 366-1530.