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Republican lawmakers: Executive Budget is a good start

By Andrew Carden
Staff writer

January 23, 2012
In the wake of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Executive Budget for 2012-2013, state Republican lawmakers have offered their two cents on the proposed plan, which sports a price tag of $132.5 billion.

Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, praised the governor for his focus on job creation through public-private partnerships, but suggested he take a more aggressive stance on eliminating fraud, waste and abuse in state agencies and authorities.

"Government should be shrinking and becoming more efficient, not growing and becoming more unwieldy," said Ball.

Ball suggested the governor's proposed mandate relief, by way of a state takeover of Medicaid, be attached, without any loopholes, to "real, direct and substantive" property tax relief to

the state's taxpayers.

"Simply swapping the cost of Medicaid from the local to the state, without insisting the locals provide one to one property tax relief would be both foolish and reckless," said Ball.

On a similar note, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, R-Staten Island, called the governor's plan a "step in the right direction," but expressed concerns over how the state will fund some of the proposed economic development projects.

"The governor has indicated that a majority of these initiatives will be funded through private investment, which is a positive measure," said Malliotakis. "However, while we continue to face fiscal uncertainty and a $2.2 billion budget deficit, any investment from public authorities and state taxpayers must be made wisely."

On proposed mandate relief, Assemblyman Dean Murray, R-East Patchogue, said the governor has merely "brushed the surface." A stronger effort, he suggested, is necessary to provide relief.

"A bill that I am sponsoring, A.5305, which will require a three-year moratorium on unfunded mandates and repeal existing mandates on local governments and school districts, will provide much relief," said Murray.

Concerning the Executive Budget's addressing of Medicaid payments and pension costs, Assemblyman Ray Walter, R-Amherst, said, the governor is making the necessary steps toward reducing the costs to localities that raise taxes on local families and businesses.

"By removing the burden of annual Medicaid increases and creating a new Tier VI pension plan for future state employees, state government can go a long way toward providing substantial savings that will result in lower costs for Western New York's taxpayers," said Walter.

Assemblyman Robert J. Castelli, R-Goldens Bridge, called the state's takeover of growth in the local share of Medicaid expenses an "adequate first step," but suggested the state advance a step further, toward a local takeover.

"I salute the governor for working to freeze the local share of Medicaid costs and proposing a new pension tier," said Castelli. "However, more needs to be done in the short and long term to reduce costly mandates currently driving up property tax bills and using up millions in local revenue."

Sen. Patrick Gallivan, R-Elma, struck an optimistic note in his response to the budget announcement, calling it a "strong starting point" and commending the governor for aiming to balance the state budget through spending cuts, while keeping taxes low on individuals and businesses.

"It is important to remember the governor's executive proposal is just the beginning of the budget discussion and much work remains to be done," said Gallivan. "I have every reason to believe the governor will be a responsive partner during this process and I look forward to again passing an on-time, fiscally responsible budget that respects New York state's taxpayers."

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