Cuomo Initiatives Well Received In North Country
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo outlined numerous initiatives in his combined budget and State of the State speech on Wednesday. North Country officials for the most part are pleased with the governor’s plans.
Although the governor outlined a number of initiatives, the devil is in the details according to the North Country’s Assembly representative. 115th district Republican Janet Duprey calls Cuomo a powerful speaker, but is waiting to receive and study his budget summary. “Certainly he said some good things. You know he talked about reducing small business taxes. I’m sure that will help many if not all of our small businesses. I’m pleased with his discussion about education, his commitment to infrastructure. Certainly those of us in the North Country particularly in Plattsburgh cheer the MTA funding. Bombardier and Nova Bus and Prevost they hopefully will get a substantial number of those contracts. He talked about tourism. There’s been some concern that the Catskill Challenge was going to replace the Adirondack Challenge but he made it clear that was not happening. Overall a lot of good information. I think the highlight for the North Country, at least for me, was the recognition of Sgt. Jay Cook our hometown hero who captured Sweat. That was certainly a nice touch.”
45th District state Senator Republican Betty Little agrees that a number of the governor’s initiatives will be good for the North Country including transportation funding and water and sewer infrastructure. “Having a fund where a small community can apply to have a sewer infrastructure, I have small communities, I can give you examples North Creek and Salem, NY. They can’t grow and their businesses can’t grow because they’re all on septic systems. And in fact both of these communities are near a river and they need to get a sewer system. But their population and their tax base isn’t large enough to fund it themselves. So the money for the water and sewer infrastructure I think is very, very important for the growth in our areas.”
Plattsburgh Mayor James Calnon, an independent, says all communities have road, bridge, and water and sewer issues and is pleased to see such funding in the governor’s budget. “Most importantly to us I think though is the economic development stuff. There is in a lot of the pre-speech detail descriptions of an extra $50 million for this Regional Economic Development Council which we think will be applied to great benefit for Plattsburgh. There is the Downtown New York Cities Competition that the governor announced a couple of days ago. Certainly there’s only 62 cities in the state and if only 10 of them are going to be included in an award we’re happy to compete and we think we’ve got some good things that can be done here that will really enhance particularly our downtown.”
While Mayor Calnon found a number of positives in the governor’s speech, he also doesn’t spare criticism. “The one negative to all of this is that the governor essentially blames local government for the taxing structure in the state. And how we manage our funds is an important piece of that. But it doesn’t include any discussion of decisions that are made at the state level that we’re powerless to deal with. It doesn’t deal with any unfunded mandates. Now by the same token later on in the speech he turns around and says here’s how we’re going to help you. So in the end I think it’s a pretty positive presentation by the governor. But I always get a little bit discouraged by the fact that there’s not a really honest admittance that this is a shared responsibility, that the state really is part of the reason that we’re in the shape we’re in.”
The state Senate begins budget hearings on January 20th.