Members of Governor’s cabinet delivering his message across the state
The Cuomo administration is busy spreading the word this week, by sending the State of the State message on the road. YNN's Bill Carey says one of the places where officials were talking about the plan was the City of Auburn.
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AUBURN, N.Y. -- It was the day after Governor Andrew Cuomo had taken to a stage in Albany to lay out his plans for the state in 2013. An agenda that touched on issues ranging from education to gambling, from women's equality to gun control.
Now, members of Cuomo's cabinet are fanning out across the state to carry that message to smaller groups in various communities, explaining and answering questions about the plan.
“Focusing on progressive actions that benefit the state of New York, but also focusing on the economy,” said Matt Driscoll, State Environmental Facilities Corporation.
But while the Governor talks about a wide-ranging agenda, local government leaders say there is one item they wanted to see on that agenda. But it was not discussed in his speech in Albany. The issue is not a new one. Costs that the local governments bear for programs instituted by the state. They're called "unfunded mandates".
“I don't think that phrase was used and, unfortunately, that is a problem. That is the largest problem for here. And some of the items he has in the budget will have an impact on localities. But I think the bigger worry is, there is no relief, especially when you still have a two percent tax cap,” said Guy Cosentino, a former Auburn mayor and columnist.
For county governments, there are Medicaid costs. Increases have been capped, but the remaining price tag is very high, often consuming much of their property tax revenues. But cities are also pleading for some relief.
Auburn Mayor Michael Quill said, “We really, really need it. I cannot express that enough. It's very important to us. Pension costs for public employees. They're ruining our budget. The employees work hard. They deserve their pensions. I'm not quibbling with that. But we need some relief in the payment of the pension fund.”
For cabinet members, the questions are familiar. A state commission, they say, will issue a report later this year on ways the state can ease the burden on local governments. Until those recommendations are made, though, and until concrete proposals are forwarded, local leaders still believe a wide ranging agenda is not wide ranging enough.