O'Mara reacts to Cuomo's proposed budget: Priority No. 1 is to stay focused on Upstate economy, job creation, tax and mandate relief

Thomas F. O'Mara

January 22, 2013

Albany, N.Y., January 22—State Senator Tom O’Mara (R-C, Big Flats) said today that Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed 2013-2014 state budget calls for no new state taxes, holds the line on state spending for the third year in a row, continues to streamline the state bureaucracy and takes some additional steps to get local governments out from under the burden of unfunded state mandates.

On the economic and fiscal reform front, several of the governor’s key proposals are in step with O’Mara’s own overriding priority: Upstate economic growth and community development. 

Highlights include another round of funding for the state’s regional economic development councils, a community college incentive program to place students in high-demand jobs, and a Market-NY program to market the Upstate tourism-related economy

“New York government needs to stay focused, more than anything else, on taking step after step after step toward long-term fiscal discipline, private-sector economic growth and eliminating the crushing burdens of mandates, regulations and taxes.  Let’s get this job done.  What concerns me above all else – because it deeply concerns the communities and citizens I represent – is what this governor wants to do to help Upstate keep our employers and the jobs they create for our workers, attract new economic opportunities, strengthen our communities and provide the tax, mandate and regulatory relief that’s so desperately needed throughout the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions,” said O’Mara.  “For me, this is where it all begins and ends. From building strong families to creating thriving, vibrant communities, all that we hope to accomplish for a secure and successful future begins with and depends on a strong and sustainable 21st-century Upstate economy.  An aggressive commitment to the future of Upstate New York is priority number one.”

[Watch Senator O'Mara's reaction]

Overall, O’Mara said the governor’s new $142.6-billion fiscal plan calls for continuing to exert long-term control over future state spending and for meeting the state’s current fiscal obligations and challenges, including closing a $1.3-billion budget deficit, without resorting to new or higher state taxes.  For the third straight year, the governor’s plan essentially holds the line on year-to-year state spending, keeping the increase under 2%, and calls for an ongoing realignment, streamlining and overhaul of many state programs and services.

“While maintaining this fiscal discipline the governor has also maintained a commitment to increase local education aid by 3 percent, or more than $800 million.  It remains to be seen how this additional funding will be distributed statewide.  My ongoing priority is to see that it’s distributed in an equitable way that helps our rural and low wealth-high need districts,” O’Mara said.

O’Mara stressed that 2013 will also automatically bring some mandate relief to counties in the form of the state takeover of local Medicaid cost growth approved as part of the 2012-2013 state budget.    He said Cuomo’s latest budget proposal calls for several additional mandate relief actions. But O’Mara plans to keep pushing for even more relief for local governments, school districts and taxpayers from existing or any future unfunded state mandates – in particular to do even more to eliminate the local costs associated with the state’s $53-billion-plus Medicaid program.  Local leaders point to the cost of Medicaid as their single-largest mandated expense.

O’Mara said that the next step is for state legislators, local leaders and the public to begin analyzing the details of the new Cuomo fiscal plan and assessing its impact on specific programs and services. 

Details on the governor’s budget proposal, including a replay of today's presentation, can be found on the state Division of the Budget website: http://www.budget.ny.gov/

Earlier today the governor's office also announced the launch of a new website, OpenBudget.ny.gov, that "provides unprecedented access and transparency to New York's budget. Open Budget's easy-to-use tools, charts, and information are available to the public today in coordination with the Governor's Executive Budget address."

O’Mara invited 58th District residents to share their own opinions and suggestions

Area residents can also respond to a new Web poll that asks, “Does Governor Cuomo’s proposed state budget focus on the right priorities and keep New York moving in the right direction in 2013?”

The Legislature’s fiscal committees will also begin a series of public hearings on the Cuomo plan this week.  The state’s new fiscal year begins on April 1, 2013 and state leaders are aiming to have a new state budget in place before that April 1st deadline.