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Area Officials See Positives, Seek More Details On Budget

State Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, speaks on behalf of S.4713A on the state Senate floor on Monday.

Although it’s early, some area officials see good things in Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposed budget for 2022-23.

On Tuesday, Hochul a Democrat, presented her $216.3 billion budget, which has a 3.1% spending increase. After her presentation, Republican County Executive PJ Wendel said he was encouraged.

“It’s good to hear that the state is back on track,” he said, noting that it appears this budget is balanced.

Wendel said it’s important that this budget help businesses across the state. “That’s something significant. If you look at where businesses have left New York state, we need to focus on being more business friendly moving forward, to retain businesses but also to entice businesses to come into the state,” he said.

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Wendel noted that the “devil is in the details” when it comes to budgets. He said the New York Association of Counties is going through the budget, analyzing its impact on county governments.

One of the items he’s waiting to hear is if the budget gives any sort of partnership, dealing with Chautauqua Lake for the algal blooms and the weed issues. “We did sit down at the table and put in a request for funding from the state, which is something we haven’t had in the past,” he said.

Wendel applauded state Sen. George Borrello and Assemblyman Andy Goodell for bringing funding to the county but said this funding he’s requesting is in partnership with other organizations across the state that have similar fresh water lake problems.

Wendel believes that because the federal government has passed the infrastructure project, that is freeing up funds that New York would normally spend and can invest that money elsewhere. “Will that benefit our county? I hope it does,” he said.

Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, sees signs of hope in the budget as well. “I am encouraged that the proposed budget doesn’t rely on new taxes or fees and includes some initiatives that would benefit middle-class taxpayers, including an acceleration of the historic income tax cuts authored by the former Senate Republican Majority and a $2.2 billion property tax rebate program,” he said.

Borrello noted that small businesses, which have been the hardest hit segment of our economy throughout the pandemic, are still struggling to recover from their losses. He hopes more will be done for them. “The best way New York state could help is by directing billions in unspent federal aid to ease the crushing unemployment insurance tax rates the state has levied on small employers to replenish the depleted UI fund. It is not only unfair to ask small businesses to bear the burden of the government’s mistakes, it is stifling our economic recovery,” he said.

But Borrello is concerned about funding for state and local law enforcement personnel.

“The disastrous criminal justice reforms forced on our state by radical Democrats have made our cities and neighborhoods more dangerous than they have been in decades,” he said. “The heightened risks of the job have spurred an exodus from the profession that has only exacerbated our public safety challenges. While repealing these policies remains our top priority and one we will pursue through legislation, budget support for this sector is also crucial.”

Borrello noted that in the coming days, he and his Senate Republican colleagues will be reviewing the details of the executive budget and plan to advance their own plans aimed at supporting their “Take Back New York” initiative. “New Yorkers deserve a state that is safer, stronger and more economically vibrant. Realizing that goal will be my focus this session,” he said.

Meanwhile, New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta issued a statement that the ongoing needs of pandemic-battered public schools, colleges and hospitals must be met this year. “Gov. Hochul’s spending plan makes some important commitments toward meeting those needs, including a significant increase in aid for K-12 schools and sorely needed operating aid for SUNY and CUNY. We look forward to reviewing the executive budget in greater detail and ensuring the voices of our members are included in the conversation between now and April 1,” he said.

United University Professions President Frederick E. Kowal said in a statement he wants to see more funding for SUNY statewide. “Gov. Hochul’s proposed Executive Budget clearly addresses some long-standing issues for SUNY that have been underfunded or ignored by the state for more than a decade. However, her spending proposal does not reach the funding levels that SUNY and our public teaching hospitals desperately need to overcome more than a decade of gross underfunding of SUNY. It is well past time for the state to renew its commitment to SUNY and public higher education in New York. SUNY is one of New York’s most prolific economic engines, providing avenues to success for tens of thousands of students annually. Yet, state aid for SUNY has been flat for years, a situation exacerbated by billions in cuts to SUNY since the Great Recession,” he said

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