I applaud Governor Cuomo for presenting a balanced budget that holds the line on spending. Increasing aid to schools statewide by over 4%, during these very challenging economic times is a good thing. However, in reviewing his aid calculations for several districts in the Hudson Valley, that statewide figure of a 4% increase is not bearing out locally in many districts. I am concerned about that.
What is needed is more mandate relief. The Senate has passed legislation banning the enactment of unfunded mandates. The Assembly should pass that legislation as well, and the Governor’s mandate relief Council should take a hard line to provide real mandate relief.
I also applaud his proposal to fund flood buyouts. This is something I helped lead the way on, in the Catskills,years ago. Due to changing weather patterns, it is dangerous for our citizens and first responders to re-build in flood prone areas. We want to make sure that the opportunity exists to expand flood buyouts in the Catskills, not just in the metropolitan area affected by Super-storm Sandy.
New York is on a far better financial path than we were just three years ago. As part of the Senate leadership team, I look forward to working to adopt an early budget that addresses our State and local priorities.