Reaction To The Budget

February 1, 2011 Updated Oct 25, 2013 at 12:14 AM EDT

By WKBW News

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February 1, 2011 Updated Oct 25, 2013 at 12:14 AM EDT

ALBANY, NY ( WKBW ) Channel 7's John Borsa and Keith Radford were in Albany to get reaction from the WNY delegation to the budget presented Tuesday by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo's budget called for cuts, change, and for everyone in the state to work together to become fiscally responsible.

Click the video for reaction from local lawmakers.

In addition, you can read some of the releases obtained by Eyewitness News on reaction from lawmakers and organizations.

Erie County Democratic Chairman Len Lenihan responded:

Without raising taxes or more borrowing,Governor Cuomo is setting NY on a new path towards fiscal solvency and economic growth.His focus on strong public-private partnerships will boost the WNY economy.The shared sacrifice throughout the Governor’s plan minimizes the impact on individuals while restoring fiscal sanity to NYS.This budget sets us on a road to economic recovery that will bring jobs back to NYS.

Joint Statement from AFSCME New York in Response to Governor Cuomo’s Budget Address:

New York's health care and social workers, police officers, corrections officers, dispatchers, educators, librarians and other public employees renew our commitment to help develop solutions to our state's budget challenges. But we stand firm against cuts that threaten the public health, safety and economic stability of our communities.

The income gap between the wealthiest New Yorkers and everyone else is dangerously wide. Any serious attempt to solve our budget challenges must involve the richest New Yorkers paying their fair share before there can be any talk of further sacrifice for the rest of us taxpayers.

Public employees, along with unionized employees working for private, non-profit social programs that receive state funding, provide vital services that millions of New Yorkers need now more than ever. We do not do our jobs to get rich. We do them because we want to see our state thrive -- and New York cannot thrive by cutting even more jobs and cruelly denying services, through cuts in programs such as Medicaid, to our state's children, seniors and most vulnerable residents.

STATEMENT OF MARK POLONCARZ ON

GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO’S PROPOSED 2011-2012 BUDGET

Erie County Comptroller Mark C. Poloncarz today issued the following statement concerning today’s release by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s of his proposed 2011-2012 Budget for New York:

In releasing his proposed 2011-2012 budget for New York State, Governor Andrew Cuomo today put down to paper what he said he would do during the past year’s campaign: address the significant fiscal deficit that faces New York State’s government, and moreover, the built-in systemic problems that have plagued our state for decades. In revealing the sham that is the annual built in growth of nearly 13.0% in key areas, the Governor pulled back the curtain on the Oz-like world that is the New York State budget process. He is shining a light on an inside game that very few have seen other than the “three men in a room” who control the state’s spending.

I commend the Governor for making the difficult decision to reduce the cost of government in New York. Previously, Governors have, at best, tried to slow the rate of growth in state spending but very few have ever decreased it. However, Governor Cuomo released a budget which most thought impossible: reduce the total budget from last year’s version by $3.7 billion or 2.7%.

To achieve that end, the Governor’s proposal includes significant reductions to the two largest areas of spending in New York – i.e., Medicaid/health care and Education – and also includes the threat of laying off 9,800 employees if certain workforce savings cannot be obtained. While it is very important to ensure that needed services are provided, our state leaders cannot continue to put their collective heads in the sand and assume that everything will be back to normal when they take them out. This budget proposal is important because it forces state leaders to address the fundamental issues plaguing our state, whether they like it or not.

My office will further analyze this budget, as well as the legislature’s response, to determine its true impact, if enacted, on our county and report our findings to the public. However, at first glance, while it is painful, I commend the Governor for taking meaningful, decisive action in leading our state out of the morass that has crippled upstate and resulted in so many of our young citizens being forced to leave New York for better career opportunities

Gallivan Calls Governor’s Budget Proposal, “Fiscally Responsible, Economically Necessary”

Senator Patrick M. Gallivan (R,C,I – Elma) expressed a sense of guarded optimism today, immediately following Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive proposal for the State’s 2011-12 budget. The initial proposal, unveiled this afternoon in Albany, recommends a total State Budget of $132.9 billion, a 2.7 percent decrease from last year.

“The only way to balance the State’s $10 billion deficit and revitalize its economy is to reduce state spending. The Governor seemingly recognizes this and has proposed to balance the budget without any tax increases or any plans to increase New York’s debt load through borrowing,” said Gallivan, “that is the right place to start budget negotiations.”

The proposal includes some funding reductions for education and Medicaid, which typically receive generous amounts of state funding, but the Governor called for proportionally larger cuts to state operations spending.

“Across New York families and businesses are tightening their belts and cutting expenses to make ends meet, it is time State government does the same. The hard truth is that the state’s current rate of spending is unsustainable and without reductions we will continue to see our citizens migrate to other states, and our small businesses forced to shut their doors. This proposal appears fiscally responsible and its provisions appear economically necessary,” said Gallivan.

The freshman legislator was also pleased that some of the provisions necessary to implement the University at Buffalo’s long-term strategic growth plan, UB 2020, were included in the Governor’s initial budgetary offering.

“It is no secret to the Governor how important UB 2020 and SUNY empowerment is to Western New York’s economy. While I am pleased that provisions allowing for streamlined procurement procedures, and increased flexibility for SUNY schools to engage in public-private partnerships were included, I will continue to impress upon the Governor throughout the budget process how critical it is that we provide the tools necessary for UB to become the economic engine it can be for Western New York,” said Gallivan.

Gallivan did express concern regarding the proposed incentive for rewarding school district efficiency and performance results. “While it’s important to incentivize academic performance in struggling districts, it is equally important we recognize districts that have already realized efficiencies and high academic performance when considering fair and equitable distribution of education aid,” Gallivan said.

The Governor’s Executive Budget Proposal is the initial part of New York State’s budget process. The 2011-12 New York State Budget is due April 1st.

“A balanced, on-time, fiscally responsible budget is essential to turning New York State around, but it is only the first step. To create jobs and provide lasting economic opportunity we must stabilize property taxes and provide unfunded mandate relief to our local municipalities and school districts, while structurally reforming the way government spends money by instituting a spending cap to ensure future budgets reflect the responsibility of this year’s proposal,” concluded Gallivan.

Senator Patrick M. Gallivan represents the 59th State Senate District, which includes all or parts of Erie, Wyoming, Livingston, and Ontario Counties.

UFFALO, N.Y. -- University at Buffalo President John B. Simpson has released the following message to the campus community in response to this afternoon's state budget proposal announced by Gov. Andrew M.
Cuomo:

Dear Colleagues:

Earlier today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo released his executive budget proposal. It calls for deep reductions in state spending, and includes a 10 percent cut to SUNY's operating budget. These proposed cuts will make it even more difficult for us to continue to provide an excellent and accessible education to our students, advance our academic enterprise and enrich our communities.

The University at Buffalo strives for excellence in our academic mission of research, teaching, and public service. Public funds historically have provided significant support for the university's mission as a public university. State support has been especially important because New York's policy makers have chosen for decades to keep SUNY's tuition and fees among the lowest in the nation. Yet for this compact to work in maintaining both educational quality and access, very low tuition must be supported by state funding. This is eroding rapidly.

Prior to these most recent proposed cuts, the state already has cut $63 million from UB's funding since 2008 -- a decrease of 30 percent. To absorb these large and unprecedented cuts, we have made strategic reductions in virtually every area of the university. In reaching these difficult decisions, we consulted with our faculty, staff and students, and we sought to protect UB's academic quality, help our students stay on track to graduate and maintain essential services for students. Our cost-saving strategies have included:

• Streamlining our administrative operations and making smart use
of technology to save dollars,

• Reducing our payroll costs through early retirement programs
and a hiring moratorium, and

• Using up the financial reserves that we had planned to
re-invest in the university in order to achieve the UB 2020 strategic plan.

These strategies have served us well. They have allowed us to absorb the largest funding cuts in UB history without irrevocably harming our academic mission. I now fear, however, that we have reached the limits of what these strategies can do.

Although we have not yet made any decisions, additional large reductions in state support will leave UB no choice but to consider options that will impact our students, faculty and programs directly.

I was heartened that the Governor has introduced legislation that would provide support for two of the three policy reforms we have sought through the Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act:
those related to procurement and to public-private partnerships. While the key cornerstone of this reform package -- implementing a rational tuition policy -- is not part of the executive budget proposal at this time, we will continue working with Albany to secure this critical reform, and toward the eventual enactment of all of these legislative reforms, which are vitally important for the future of our university, our region and our state.

We continue to have productive conversations with the governor's office, and I am encouraged by Governor Cuomo's positive statements in support of UB 2020. I know that he understands the important role that public research universities like UB can play as the engines of innovation for their regions and their state.

I urge UB, SUNY and Western New York to continue to fight for the policy reforms we have been seeking for the past three years. These reforms will help UB become a stronger and better university -- one that makes an even greater impact on our surrounding regions.

Sincerely,

John B. Simpson
President

Statement of Erie County Clerk on the Proposed NYS Budget

Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul said she was relieved that the State budget proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo did not include new fees or major changes that would impact motorists. “Hopefully the days of balancing budgets on the backs of our drivers are over. In the previous State budget, our residents endured 25% increases in DMV fees over our strong objections. I am very pleased that the Governor understands that the cost of owning and maintaining vehicles, especially with the unconscionably high cost of gas these days, has meant too many hard-earned dollars drained from the pockets of our residents. I give the Governor a great deal of credit for understanding the plight of our customers and as a result, is leaving them alone.

Hochul said she wants to remind County taxpayers that doing their Auto Bureau transactions in person at a local office keeps much needed dollars in Erie County. She also said that one of the highest legislative priorities of the NYS County Clerks Association, where she will soon assume position of co-Chair of the State DMV Committee, is to allow the Counties a percentage of the internet transactions from the State DMV website, which currently draws revenues from the Counties.

“I also applaud the Governor for his initiatives to support women and minority owned businesses. All new businesses get their start in the County Clerk’s Office and we work closely with them to work through the bureaucratic maze they often encounter. Last year alone, the Clerk’s Office issued 3500 new DBAs, our highest number in four years. Certainly a positive sign for the local economy,” said Hochul.

Gabryszak: Cuomo’s call for rightsizing and restructuring can revamp New York State

“The Governor is taking a proactive, pay it forward approach to closing this budget deficit. I applaud Governor Cuomo and his administration’s decision to explore creative and innovative ways of restructuring government as a whole, through consolidation and merging of programs.

“New York State spent the most money on education but only ranked 34th.The Governor’s budget will reduce state aid to schools by $1.5 billion. By incentivizing education funding, it will encourage consolidation, reward achievement and reduce overall spending costs.

“No one wants to see cuts. My advice to any organization seeking funding is to put forth a detailed plan. It’s going to be a difficult year, however, we can work together to come up with a viable solution.”

“An enormous amount of responsibility comes with being a public servant. That is why I believe in ethics reform. As legislators, it’s important we restore the trust of our constituents and perform the job we were elected to do. We need to be held accountable by the taxpayer. Our mission should be to get this great state back on track to prosperity to make it a better place now and for years to come.”

STATEMENT BY BUFFALO NIAGARA PARTNERSHIP PRESIDENT & CEO
ANDREW J. RUDNICK

Re: Governor Cuomo’s Budget Announcement Today

“This budget is being called ‘tough,’ but in the face of a $10 billion deficit, I call it the first realistic budget proposed by a governor in years,” said Andrew J. Rudnick, president and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. “New York families have been making sacrifices all along, living in the nation’s highest taxed state, dealing with the unemployment an unfriendly business climate causes or leaving their hometown all together to find work elsewhere. It’s good to see Governor Cuomo recognize this and attempt to mend it by forcing government to make tough choices, just as families and business owners upstate have for decades.”

Governor’s budget will devastate parks—and the revenue they generate

ALBANY, NY -- Governor Cuomo’s proposed Executive Budget for the State Parks agency, which reduces the parks budget by $19 million, will result in park closings, plus more drastic cutbacks in hours and services.

“Last year 88 parks were on the chopping block in order to save the state $11 million. How can parks not close this year with a $19 million reduction in the budget?” questioned Robin Dropkin, Executive Director of Parks & Trails New York, the statewide advocacy group. “We don’t know yet how many or which ones but if the Governor’s proposed budget is adopted, parks across New York will implode.”

Four parks and historic sites in Upstate New York— Knox Farm in East Aurora, Woodlawn Beach in Hamburg, Joseph Davis in Lewiston and Herkimer Home near Little Falls—have already closed in the last few months due to the strain on the parks budget. Which parks will be next?

Closing parks is a bad idea – one that New Yorkers have already voted against, with their feet. Park attendance was up by 1 million visitors this year. State parks are one of the few available and affordable recreation outlets for New Yorkers still under siege in a tough economy.

“The State Parks agency should be rewarded for its success, not penalized with more drastic cuts that will tear apart the integrity of the system and threaten visitation revenue,” said Dropkin.

Save money, save parks

Closing parks not only makes history – it actually loses money for the state. Patron user fees already sustain about 40 percent of the parks budget, an amount that has been steadily rising. So $1 million in park closings or reductions in hours actually only provides $600,000 in net direct budget savings.

In addition, every dollar cut from the parks budget loses $5 in economic benefits to the state, according to the 2009 report, The New York State Park System: An Economic Asset to the Empire State. Overall, the state park system generates nearly $1.9 billion annually in economic activity, supporting 20,000 jobs (not including state park employees).

In upstate New York, the revenue and jobs created by parks are desperately needed. Tourism is one of the few bright spots in the upstate economy, which cannot afford to lose the long-lasting jobs and services that parks provide.

Closing state parks will hurt local tourism industries and create negative economic impacts much greater than the modest savings to the state budget. The entire budget of the Office of Parks represents one less than 1/5 of one percent of the overall state budget.

Parks already right sized

The Governor's budget reduces all agency General Fund spending by 10 percent in order to “right size” government. However, the State Parks agency has already been “right sized,” incurring an 18% cut in operating budget over the last three years, significantly more than most other agencies.

“This death by 1,000 cuts to the legacy of our magnificent state park system is a huge price for the people of New York to pay for a miniscule savings to the state budget,” concluded Dropkin.

Statement of CSEA President Danny Donohue on Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed state budget

ALBANY, NY (02/01/2011)(readMedia)-- "There is nothing fair nor shared in the proposed state budget.

Slashing aid to our communities, to our hospitals and nursing homes, to our schools and disproportionate cuts in state operations does not represent any new direction. It will mean fewer people on the job maintaining our roads, fewer people keeping our water clean, fewer people making our neighborhoods safer, fewer people providing care to our most vulnerable citizens, fewer people driving our children to school and helping New Yorkers lead healthier lives.

CSEA has repeatedly said that we are prepared to do our part and work with the administration for a better New York.

We are not willing to see the necessary services that CSEA members provide to people in every community in the state used as a bargaining chip to maintain tax breaks for millionaires."

“Cuomo’s Budget Proposal Just Won’t Do”

Western New York Community Groups Organizing to Create Jobs and Reinvest in Communities Call for Jobs and Reinvestment, Not Tax Breaks for the Rich and Service Cuts for Everyone Else

Part of a Statewide effort local community organizations are working together to envision a New Deal for New York

Rebuilding Our Neighborhoods

Jennifer Meccozzi, Boardchair PUSH Buffalo, offered the following statement:

"Instead of cutting the things government does best, we need Albany to think big about creating green jobs in our communities now. In Buffalo we have an outdated sewer system, brownfields on every corner, and an aging housing stock that is uninsulated and full of toxins. We have an obligation to rebuild our neighborhoods in a green and healthy way and put people to work doing it, but we can't do that with out leadership from our Governor in Albany."

Jen is a line cook who has been fighting for Green Jobs and Housing in Buffalo. She was instrumental in getting recognition from Gov. Patterson for PUSH Buffalo's Green Development Zone which is a model for the rest of the state of what sustainable development looks like. Jen raises three children and knows first hand the challenges of living in a home that isn't energy efficient because more than 30% of her income goes to energy bills. The mission of PUSH Buffalo is to mobilize residents to create strong neighborhoods with quality affordable housing, to expand local hiring opportunities and advance economic justice in Buffalo.

Duane Diggs, a leader of VOICE-Buffalo, offered the following statement:

"We are our brother's keeper. We are happy and excited about the Governor's administration and vision. But for our part as faith leaders we are committed to the least last and lowest among us being a part of a collective prosperous equation. We must have the faith and vision to create a new frontier, and put generations of struggling people back to work. VOICE-Buffalo is committed to this vision through a green jobs program in Buffalo, a clear public transportation plan, and infrastructure investments that are about equality for our struggling communities."

VOICE-Buffalo is a faith-based community organizing project of urban and suburban congregations. The mission of VOICE-Buffalo is to build the capacity of people to act on their concerns, create a culture of responsibility and accountability for what happens in our community, strengthen and connect our institutions to their communities, and break down the barriers that are deeply dividing our neighborhoods, city and region.

STATEMENT FROM SENATOR GEORGE MAZIARZ

I will review Governor Cuomo’s budget proposals with much care and consideration in the coming days and weeks, but it seems clear already that he is showing real leadership is his efforts to reduce state spending and right-size government.

Naturally my colleagues and I in Western New York are interested to learn more about how the governor’s budget proposal affects the UB2020 vision that we have all embraced. I am encouraged to see a reference to procurement reform within the SUNY system included in the budget proposal, as well provisions that would open the door for more public-private partnerships between institutions like UB and the private sector. These have been some, but not all, of the key elements of the UB2020 vision.

Now we need to look more closely at the specific impacts of the governor’s proposals and weigh their merits. Regardless, UB2020 remains the most important economic development priority for Western New York and our fight will continue as the budget and legislative processes go on.

COMPTROLLER DiNAPOLI'S STATEMENT ON
EXECUTIVE BUDGET

For the past four years, I’ve said the state needs a budget that aligns recurring revenues with recurring spending. At first glance, it appears the Governor has proposed a budget that does just that.

There are two main concerns: achieving budget balance while continuing to provide essential services that millions of New Yorkers rely on.

My office will be analyzing the specifics of the budget proposal to determine its impact on local governments, school districts and other service providers that depend on state funding.

STATEMENT FROM SENATE DEMOCRATIC LEADER

JOHN L. SAMPSON ON GOV. CUOMO’S 2011-12 EXECUTIVE BUDGET PROPOSAL

“New York is at a crossroads and facing enormous fiscal challenges. Our Middle Class families can’t afford to keep paying for an inefficient government that heavily taxes them while generating little in return. We need better results which is why I wholeheartedly support Governor Cuomo’s blueprint to restructure the budget process through long-term structural changes that radically reform how we spend taxpayer dollars.

“Only by rethinking the way Albany does business, can we give New York a responsible budget that creates good-paying jobs, reduces the tax burden and makes New York more affordable, while still investing in key services Middle Class families rely on. Cuts must be made but with care. We also need to remember our values - to protect our most vulnerable citizens.

“We must change the flawed ways of the past to better prepare for New York’s future and make the difficult sacrifices these tough times demand. That is why I was the first to say legislative member items – though an important resource for many valuable programs – must be taken off the table in a year where families at kitchen tables across the state have had to do more with less.

“We need to reward state programs that produce and do away with those that are a drain on the system. We need meaningful reform of New York’s educational funding formulas, to provide aid based on need, and to ensure dollars actually go to the classroom and not to bureaucratic bloat. We need meaningful reform of our Medicaid spending, where patient care of every kind is prioritized in New York, with greater oversight and accountability. We need meaningful mandate relief and local government consolidation, as part of our local aid investments. And we need meaningful reform of our system for economic development aid so it goes to small businesses and communities where we can get the most bang for our buck.

“We are also faced with the ugly prospect of thousands of state worker layoffs. As the state considers this option we must fully evaluate the potential impact of downsizing, bring our partners in labor to the table, and ensure any sacrifices are equitably shared.

“Albany cannot continue to wait for these spending problems to go away or for someone else to miraculously solve them. The moment for change has arrived and New Yorkers deserve better to again set our state on the path to its former glory. We will work with Governor Cuomo, Lieutenant Governor Duffy, and our colleagues in the Senate and Assembly on a new approach to confronting the long-standing issues facing our state.”

NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY REPUBLICAN LEADER BRIAN KOLB COMMENTS ON GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO'S 2011-12 EXECUTIVE BUDGET

Statement from Assembly Republican Leader Brian M. Kolb

(R,I,C-Canandaigua)

"Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered his 2011-12 Executive Budget today and, as promised, it begins the long overdue, and at times painful, process of restructuring, redesigning and reforming state government by taking concrete steps toward reducing its cost and size. The fact that New York's day of fiscal reckoning has finally arrived should not come as a surprise to anyone. Year after year, budget after budget, session after session, our Assembly Republican Conference and I continually voted against, and publicly warned, that Albany's culture of fiscal irresponsibility was leading to record deficits and debt, record spending and record levels of job-killing taxation. I applaud the Governor for not only 'talking the talk' but 'walking the walk' in rejecting tax hikes as a means of closing the deficit.
New York has been there, done that, and it has not worked.

The Governor's budget marks the beginning - not the end - of the budget process. In the days ahead, my colleagues and I will carefully review the Governor's plan and specifically focus on ways to provide local governments, school districts and taxpayers with real cost relief from Albany mandates and other hidden cost drivers that lead to higher property taxes. What we cannot do - and what our Conference and I will refuse to accept - is Albany trying to balance the books by passing the buck, and its costs, onto the backs of local communities. Mandate relief must be a top priority for this budget cycle."

February 1st, 2011

Dear Fellow New Yorker:

As you may already know, NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed a 2% cap on property taxes.

And while there are many things about which UNYTEA and the Governor disagree, we are in complete agreement on the need to cap and eventually reduce our property taxes.

Such a cap, however, will do little or no good if local governments and public schools are forced to pay for more state mandates. For example, according to the NYS Education Department, our schools must now comply with more than 150 un-funded or under funded mandates. Our counties, towns, and villages, are also forced to comply with NYS Pension requirements, the Wicks Law, health insurance mandates, and much more.

Clearly, we need both a property tax cap AND mandate relief. Last night, the Republican-controlled Senate voted the tax cap in - now we have to assure they attack mandates, too.

And that is why UNYTEA's Board of Directors has voted unanimously to endorse Governor Cuomo's proposal for a 2% cap on property taxes, but only if it is accompanied by mandate relief.

Since its inception UNYTEA has been blind to political party labels. We are loyal only to our principles: limited government, personal responsibility, and individual rights.

Please join us in the effort to limit the size of state and local government and to reign in New York State's out-of-control property taxes.

Write to the Governor, and your State Senator and Assembly person.

And tell them, we want action and we want it now!

If you have any questions, please contact me at unytea@yahoo.com.

Best wishes,

Mark L. Barie
Chairman

PS: The lines are being drawn right now in the battle to save our State. Please take a few minutes out of your day to gain control of your tax burden: contact your New York State Assemblymember and Senator today via Web at http://nymap.elections.state.ny.us/nysboe/.

Public Statement
Mayor Byron W. Brown
February 1, 2011
RE: Governor Cuomo’s Recommended 2011-12 Budget

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recommended 2011-12 state budget reflects the difficult choices his administration must make to restore the state’s fiscal stability and competitiveness.

As Mayor of Buffalo, I know well the economic challenges that confront Governor Cuomo and I applaud him for delivering a recommended budget that seeks to reduce the cost and size of state government, as well as merge and consolidate state agencies.

As with all governments, at any level, and even families that have had to tighten their belts, I understand the 2% reduction of funding for Aid and Incentives for Municipalities (AIM), which reflects the Governor’s need to lower state spending.

Despite that difficult decision, the City of Buffalo is well positioned to compete for $130 million in funding that will be available through the creation of the Regional Economic Development Councils and for the Governor’s recommended $79 million in grants that will reward municipalities that either consolidate services or make added improvements and efficiencies in operations.

I am planning to testify on the Governor’s recommended budget this Monday, February 7th in Albany before the state legislative fiscal committees

STATEMENT FROM ASSEMBLYMAN JIM HAYES

With this Executive Budget, Governor Andrew Cuomo has begun to address New York’s $10 billion state deficit.

As a leader of the debate against the runaway taxes and spending in the last four state budgets, to Governor Cuomo, I say: “welcome to the fight. With you on our side, I know we can win.”

Today’s presentation has set the tone; now the Legislature needs to hear the message and perform accordingly -- and I will continue to fight against the high taxes that are bleeding Western New York of jobs and people.

The governor’s proposed fiscal plan recognizes the gravity of our current situation. It recognizes that families across the state are tightening their belts, doing more with less and making tremendous sacrifices. State government must also live within its means. The current level of spending, borrowing and taxing is simply not sustainable. It is essential that we root out wasteful spending and usher in a government that uses taxpayers’ dollars effectively so that we can protect key priorities like education and health care.

Let me be clear: I will oppose any effort by the legislature to increase our taxes without first fixing the state’s wasteful spending addiction, particularly those costly unfunded mandates on cities, counties, towns and school districts.

The governor’s budget is balanced in part with $2.85 billion in unspecified Medicaid savings that are dependent on the work of the Medicaid Redesign Team – which is scheduled to report on March 1. It is critical that the report focus on fighting fraud, waste and abuse in addition to finding savings from efficiency and program adjustments.

I am deeply disappointed that the budget does not implement SUNY autonomy, and particularly UB2020, which is of vital importance to the future of Western New York.

While I am willing to consider any proposal that saves money, I intend to closely scrutinize the governor’s plans to ensure these changes do not hurt our children or unfairly impact Western New York.