County Supports State Efforts To Reduce Deficit; Pushes Matching Effort On Mandates

OSWEGO COUNTY, NY – Oswego County lawmakers have lent their support to Governor David Paterson’s efforts to cut more than a billion dollars from the state budget. Local officials stressed last week, however, that any decisions must consider both sides of the coin.

State lawmakers will convene for a special session in Albany today. In preparation for the decisions that will come from the session, Oswego County legislators asked the County Administrator to draft a letter to the state last week to point out a costly concern.

Together, the Majority and Minority Leaders presented the request on the floor of the Oswego County Legislature Thursday.

Majority Leader Kimberly Seager said that the county applauds Governor Paterson for his efforts to reduce the state deficit. She pointed out, however, that his proposal could translate to an additional six percent cut in funding that would come to Oswego County in the coming year.

“We applaud and would support (Paterson’s efforts), Seager said. “But we ask that he’d likewise cut state mandates.”

Minority Leader Michael Kunzwiler echoed her sentiments.

“The state has to get its fiscal matters in order,” Kunzwiler said. “There is agreement on both sides of the aisle. … But if (the state) cuts aid, they also have to cut mandates.”

It would only be fair, Kunzwiler said.

Kunzwiler pointed out that Oswego County has worked for several years to bring it own finances in order.

“We’re here to the help the state also,” he said. He noted, however, that the state needs to be cognizant of the burden of unfunded mandates on local municipalities.

The county Legislature unanimously agreed to send the letter to the state.

Monday, Paterson convened a Council of Economic Advisors. The 18-member council met to review the State budget to provide Paterson with additional recommendations to address the fiscal crisis.

“In this difficult fiscal climate, I am grateful that so many of our nation’s most gifted and renowned economists have agreed to serve on our Council of Economic Advisors,” Governor Paterson said in a news release that is posted on his Web site.

“The men and women who have joined our council are seasoned experts from around the State and across the nation,” he added. “Facing deteriorating economic times and declining revenues now, more than ever, we need creative ideas and solutions. I can think of no better collective group to help steer us back to fiscal health, and I look forward to hearing their recommendations.”