State Senator John Bonacic released the following statement in relation to Governor Spitzer’s 2008/2009 State Budget proposal:
"Generally speaking, I believe the Governor is continuing his efforts to address issues he sees as important to improve the quality of life of New Yorkers. However, there are a variety of budget priorities important to our region that I will be focusing on during the 2008/2009 budget negotiations. They are as follows:
PROPERTY TAX REFORM
"The Senate has, for the past two years passed legislation I co-authored to reform the property tax system. Since the Assembly failed to act on these proposals, the Senate has also passed - a total of four times, a commission to recommend education finance alternatives. While I appreciate Governor Spitzer’s support for this commission, the reality is a Commission without results is meaningless, studying it doesn’t equal reform."
"The Governor’s shift to preventative healthcare is a positive proposal. Our emergency rooms are filled with people who are going there for primary care instead of to a local doctor. The Legislature should embrace preventative healthcare whenever possible. Likewise, the Governor’s call to insure more children is also very positive."
"Rural healthcare faces unique challenges. The Governor’s call for more specialist doctors in rural areas, as I have proposed for several years, is a very positive development and something I will be urging the enactment of."
EDUCATION AID (K- 12)
"One place I must voice my concern is the Governor’s proposal to upset the ‘foundation aid’ formula which was enacted last year as part of the State budget. Schools need a dependable sense of what their aid will be. Last year the Legislature enacted a foundation aid formula to do just that. Now, the Governor is proposing to break with that agreement. Less foundation aid means higher property taxes."
"The Governor’s call for a better SUNY system is very positive. We should have a premier public education system. Innovative programs at our public colleges will make that possible. I look forward to working with him to do that. However, decreasing base aid to community colleges isn’t good policy."
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND HOUSING
"The Governor’s $1 billion upstate economic development plan is a wild-card. The reality is, as I said last week, we need to make sure there is a Mid-Hudson and Watershed component of this economic development plan.
"Likewise, $400 million in housing funding, with 25% of that going to ‘upstate’ and the balance going ‘downstate’ is not acceptable. As Chairman of the Senate Housing Committee, I want to make sure there is a good Statewide, needs-based distribution and certainly the Catskills and Mid-Hudson area have significant needs."