Statement by Senator Betty Little
“There’s no question in anyone’s mind of the economic challenge New York State government faces this year and next
“My concern is for my district and the impact this budget will have on us. One of the biggest questions now is whether the pain will be distributed evenly and fairly throughout the state or whether downstate, including New York City, given the concentration of political power there, will feel a trickle-down effect while we experience a torrent.
“The fact that the budget would target upstate prison facilities for closure is not a surprise. Since entering the Senate, I have heard my downstate Democratic colleagues repeatedly call to close our upstate facilities, often citing what they believe to be an unfair counting of inmates in the federal census. Closures not only directly impact those employed at correctional facilities, but there’s also a ripple effect that is tough for rural and economically depressed communities in the North Country to absorb. Camp Gabriels, closed last year, now sits empty. I don’t want to see the same thing happen at Lyon Mountain or Moriah.
“As negotiations begin, I’d like to see tax relief for property owners and businesses be a priority. While the governor has proposed some new economic development initiatives, I’d prefer broad tax and regulatory relief for existing businesses that is not tied to job creation. Staying open right now is challenge enough. Give more businesses a fighting chance to succeed and I’m sure they won’t let us down. The governor’s advocacy for a circuit-breaker property tax relief plan is good, but it comes up short without a commitment to fund it. I’m afraid that for homeowners on the edge the promise of relief won’t be enough to hold them here another year.
“What I like most about the executive budget is the mandate relief package, especially the four-year moratorium on new unfunded mandates. I would hope my colleagues all have the good sense to get behind a lot of what the governor’s mandate relief would do.
“Last year’s budget was the most secretive in recent years, and no one seems to dispute that the outcome was terrible. Tough decisions don't have to be bad ones. But that requires a process that is deliberative, transparent and allows for input by those most affected.”