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Local Officials Hear Summary Of Governor’s Budget

WAMC/Pat Bradley

Though they were overshadowed by news of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s arrest, members of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s cabinet fanned out across the state to present his budget directly to community leaders today. In Plattsburgh this afternoon, the Director of Veterans Affairs outlined the budget’s North Country highlights. 

New York State Division of Veterans Affairs Director Eric Hesse was assigned to outline the Governor’s Opportunity Agenda for North Country officials in Plattsburgh a day after the joint State of the State/budget address in Albany.  “Our 2015 Opportunity Agenda includes economic opportunity, education, public safety, government reform and fairness for all.”

Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Bernie Bassett is both enthusiastic and concerned about elements in the budget proposal.  “When I heard him start talking about education I was excited. But I’m concerned with what the approach is going to be and what we’re trying to do to education. When I saw the initiative to provide infrastructure money I’m excited. We have a huge need, like everyone, for infrastructure. And I am concerned as we scramble for too little money to meet too many needs, will the terms and conditions be such that we’ll end up with nothing? I think the governor has a real sense of what the needs are. He’s certainly done a lot of great things with the state budget.  I’m not sure about  the impacts on my budget.”

Franklin County Board of Legislators Chairman Billy Jones says while there are a number of items in the budget that will benefit the region, he’d like to see other issues included in the proposal.  “There are plenty of things for our region. Talking about tourism, I believe he mentioned he wanted to increase some funding towards tourism. There’s a few things that I would’ve liked to see more of. I would’ve liked to see more funding for our basic infrastructure, roads and bridges. But we’ll work on that I guess through the federal levels.”

Plattsburgh North Country Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Garry Douglas noted that Governor Cuomo’s budget proposal is more than 500 pages long and much that is related to the North Country was not presented by the governor on Wednesday.  “An example of which on first blush many might think, oh well,  there’s more money for New York City. $750 million for the MTA in New York City. That’s to buy for example 900 more subway cars and 1,800 new busses. It’s going to come up here to the North Country and other places in upstate that make the transportation equipment. So that is a very important item in that budget that really benefits both. There’s $10 million in there for ORDA to begin significant investments in the Olympic facilities. $500 million for broadband. There is no region in this state for whom that is more important than the North Country. And then there are just some other items in there,”

Members of the governor’s cabinet presented outlines of his Opportunity Agenda in cities across the state including Rochester, Auburn, Rome, Middletown and Binghamton.