Statement By Senator Carl Kruger, Chair Senate Finance Committee

October 28, 2009

“Our children are not going away. When I die, my daughter is still going to be here. And one way or the other you are going to have to care for her.” Saundra Gumerove, AHRC Nassau.
Testimony on October 27, 2009 before the Senate Finance Committee
re: the Governor’s Proposed Deficit Reduction Plan


“This week the Senate Finance Committee held the first two of four regional hearings to discuss the Governor’s proposed deficit reduction plan. The public has demonstrated an overwhelming desire to participate in this process that will ultimately determine how their tax dollars are being spent.
In years past, budget discussions were locked away behind closed doors in Albany, a world apart from the reality of how those decisions would affect the people and programs they were designed to serve. Worse yet, when cuts were made, it was the programs that our most vulnerable residents rely on that were the first to be placed on the chopping block.
Unfortunately, the Governor’s proposal employs that same failed practice. Our hearings will help to develop a deficit reduction plan to close the budget gap without disrupting vital services or imposing any new fees or taxes. And most significantly, the hearings are being conducted in public for all to see and contribute.
More than 100 groups have testified over a two-day period so far.
In Long Island, parents of children with developmental disabilities spoke forcefully and emotionally about what cuts to OMRDD programs would mean.
In New York City, those who have given every minute of their lives to helping at-risk youth avoid the cycle of violence that plagues many communities, made clear that if their programs are cut, staff will be laid off and today’s honor student becomes tomorrow’s statistic.
I expect we will hear similar stories next week in Buffalo and Westchester County.
There is no doubt that we have to make substantial cuts, but the task at hand is for them to be fiscally responsible and fair. We are in agreement on nearly $2 billion of the Governor’s $3 billion gap closing proposal. But it is no surprise that some aspects of his proposal are simply not acceptable.
Dramatic reductions to higher education opportunity programs for low income students and developmental disabilities services are poorly devised ideas passed off as solutions. Also, the Governor’s Medicaid and healthcare cuts place disproportionate pain on hospitals and nursing homes given they have weathered a number of cuts already. We have to do better and those who do not recognize that responsibility lack the imagination or inclination to come up with new answers to old problems.
I appreciate that the public is willing to give up their time to participate in this process and help to ensure that the final deficit reduction plan is fiscally prudent.”