Palmesano Preview Of Upcoming Budget Proposal

Discusses what priorities should be for upcoming session Column from Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I – Corning)

Governor Cuomo will soon present his Executive Budget for the 2013-14 Fiscal Year. From my perspective, his budget should address a number of important issues, a few of which I have outlined with detailed explanations. These are not new ideas, but in my opinion, ideas which are now more important than ever.

Job creation and economic development: Gov. Cuomo rightfully discussed the need to focus on improving the upstate economy in his State of the State Address. Reducing rising Workers’ Compensation and Unemployment Insurance costs, as the governor mentioned, would be welcome news. However, we need to do much more. It is imperative that we enact policies that reduce the cost of doing business and encourage private sector job creation. We should cut business taxes and eliminate bureaucratic “red tape,” including excessive regulations. Small businesses, manufacturers and the private sector in general are drowning in a sea of onerous governmental regulations, unnecessary taxes and fees. We should repeal the burdensome and costly Wage Theft Prevention Act, which requires every employer to send an annual written notification to every single employee explaining their pay and benefits. Our region has been hit hard the last few months by some bad economic news with plant closing announcements and layoffs. This is why we must be very aggressive in advancing policies which will help small businesses and manufacturers locate here, stay here and grow here.

Mandate relief for local governments and school districts: Last year, we made a good first step when we acted to cap local Medicaid costs for counties and adopted pension reform. These steps will save local governments and school districts and, therefore, property taxpayers billions of dollars when fully implemented. However, it was a first step, not the last as the governor has indicated. We absolutely must continue our efforts to reduce these mandates which drive up costs for local budgets and, consequently, property taxes which burden families and small businesses. The property tax cap can only help control the rising growth of property taxes. If, however, we truly want to reduce the local property tax burden, then we must address the true cost drivers that drive up our local budgets and property taxes. Governor Cuomo promised mandate relief would follow the implementation of the new property tax cap. We started on that promise last year, now it is time to finally honor and fulfill that promise.

Education funding reform to help our high-need, low- and average-wealth school districts: The governor discussed major education reform proposals in his State of the State Address. However, before addressing major new ideas, I believe he should first focus his attention on the critical need to reform the state’s school aid formula. The reform should provide funding based on need to ensure our low- and average-wealth school districts, which are primarily upstate, rural schools, do not get short-changed. When so many of our schools are challenged with teacher layoffs and students not having equal access to needed opportunities that are provided to children in high-wealth schools, then we must reform the system to correct these inequities. The children in our upstate, rural schools deserve to compete on a level playing field so they can be afforded a sound, quality education.

Spending: We must maintain our fiscal discipline and control state spending. I believe we have made progress on this front over the last two years as we worked to cut state operations, reform Medicaid, consolidate state authorities and commissions, and reduce overall spending in back-to-back state budgets. However, we must continue our efforts to restructure and reform our state government in these areas, and in many others, to ensure our state spending is focused on important priorities such as education and improving our state and local infrastructure (CHIPs - Consolidated Highway Improvement Program).

We have a lot of work to do, but I am committed to working with the governor and my legislative colleagues to address these goals so we can create a brighter future for New Yorkers.