April 1st is nearing, which is the deadline to pass an on-time, balanced budget for the State of New York.
The last few weeks, I have sat on several Senate committees and conducted public hearings on key pieces of the budget that include education and local government assistance. I’ve also held joint hearings with the Assembly and now we are in the stage where the two houses are in the final negotiations with Governor Cuomo.
As you know, the Governor campaigned on, and continues to emphasize, the concern that government spending and taxes in New York are unsustainable and counterproductive, driving businesses and residents out of state. Through his budget and other proposals, he has made it clear that he is seeking fundamental changes in the way government operates, including reductions in all areas of spending.
Since the Governor came out with his proposed budget in February, I have heard from and met with many concerned citizens. While we all recognize the State is facing a $10 billion deficit, the Governor’s budget was particularly unfair and inequitable to Upstate, and our schools were hit the hardest. The Senate has proposed restoring some education funding to reduce these regional disparities and thereby help small upstate schools.
Also, my colleagues and I in the Senate feel that much more needs to be done to reduce the burden of costly mandates. I am very disappointed that the current proposals do not take the significant steps which are necessary to provide needed fiscal relief to schools and local governments.
Although we are facing a very difficult fiscal climate, please be assured that I am still working to address local concerns regarding school aid and other important issues.