Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Assembly Passes Deficit Reduction Package

“Early this morning, the Assembly passed a deficit reduction packagethat cut $2.7 billion from this year’s state budget and I voted to support this package. Over the past few weeks I have stressed the need for us to take action to close our budget deficit and while today’s actions will not completely eliminate the deficit, it was a necessary procedure.

“The Assembly made several painful cuts today, but did so very carefully, including making targeted cuts to health care so as to avoid a devastating loss of federal reimbursable aid. We also limited the cuts the governor proposed in aid to local municipalities that would have shifted the burden on to the backs of local property taxpayers. However, we did cut the legislative budget and member items.

“In addition, the Assembly did not make mid-year school aid cuts but are informing districts that there will be $391 million less in federal stimulus funds to education that were to be used in the 2010-11 budget and thus schools should plan their budgets accordingly. But we did reject the governor’s proposed cut to the school lunch and breakfast program. Our working families are in difficult times and it did not make sense to hurt them any more by cutting food programs for their children.

“We also rejected the governor’s proposed $26.2 million cut to the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), because working families cannot afford to dig deeper to afford a college education for their children. In addition, we mitigated the proposed SUNY and CUNY cuts from 12.5% to 5%.

“The Assembly rejected the governor’s proposal of an $11.4 million cut to Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a program that helps aged, blind, and disabled people who have little or no income to meet their most basic needs, like food, clothing, and shelter.

“The governor will need to address the remaining deficit with cash management actions. I have already begun contacting my local school districts and local governments to urge caution in spending for the rest of this fiscal year as the governor has warned of the possibility of withholding local assistance funding.

“The Assembly also passed pension reform legislation, establishing a new Tier V, which will significantly save taxpayers money in the long run.

“Although we have made progress, the hard work is far from over. I will continue my proactive approach, addressing the existing deficit and next year’s budget. I will propose real and recurring solutions to help the state regain fiscal health such as increases to out-of-state tuition, changing the way the state purchases information technology, and shrinking the overall size of state government. I was elected to work for my constituents and for the betterment of New York State and the North Country. Be assured that I will continue to be engaged and work hard on behalf of all the families in the North Country.”

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