OSWEGO, NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo’s head of the Environmental Facilities Corporation, former Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll, visited Oswego Monday night to spread the word about how the governor plans to create a “New NY.”
Driscoll delivered a 40-minute presentation in the Council Chamber at City Hall.
Several local and county governemnt officials were on hand as were a couple dozen area residents.
“Back on Jan. 17, the governor released his 2012-13 executive budget,” Driscoll said. “His new program is really more than just a budget. What the governor is doing is creating a reform plan with his budget because he is fundementally looking to change the culture of the state of New York.”
Driscoll highlighted the governor’s accomplishments of the last year, which included:
- Closing a $10 billion deficit in the state budget in a bipartisan way, without any borrowing or tax increases and no “smoke and mirrors;”
- The property tax cap;
- Regional economic development councils;
- Ethics reform;
- New tax brackets for high earners;
- Marriage equality.
The tax rates in the Empire State are currently the lowest in 58 years; “The last time a tax adjustment was made was way back in 1953,” according to Driscoll.
Because of all that hard work last, much of the budget for the coming year is all done, he noted.
“There is so much more to do,” Driscoll said. “The govenor wants to do the exact same approach as last year, no gimmickery, the same kind of discliplined budget.”
Cuomo wants to do reality-based budgeting as opposed to the Albany-based budgeting that went on over many years, Driscoll added.
“Actually, this budget is $225 million less than last year’s,” he said. “So, the budget is going down under Gov. Cuomo. But the reform part is going to be mor eof a challenge and it’s going to be heavy lifting. The reality is, frankly, there are people who like things the way they are; there are special interests who don’t want to see things change.”
Things do need to change, Driscoll pointed out.
There is a need to utilize public-private partnerships, he said.
On the agenda:
- Turning the Jacob Javits Center in New York into the largest convention center in the country. Upstate communities will benefit by the added sales taxes gained from larger conventions, Driscoll said;
- Changing the state Constitution to allow casino-style gaming across the state;
- More money for regional economic development councils;
- Use private company partnerships to rebuild more decaying roads and bridges;
- An energy “superhighway” to funnel energy from where it’s made to where it’s needed;
- Reduce mandated costs on local governments, including the creation of a sixth, lower-cost pension tier for public workers.
“There is so much more to do. Together we can do it,” Driscoll told the crowd. “Mandate relief, evrybody talks about the concept, but nobody really wants to do it. Again, there are a lot of special interests out there and this doesn’t serve certain groups well.
The governor isn’t making any promises regarding reducing the cost of state mandates. He created a group that will report to the state legislature in hopes that it will take up laws to reduce the cost of state-mandated programs.
“The governor is a ground up person. He really wants the input of people. So, it is important for all of you to make sure your voices are heard, whether you agree or not, so the (state) senate and assembly have a good grasp of what the people want,” Driscoll explained. “The governor wants people to be involved.”