Governor Andrew Cuomo believes his recent State of the State message travels well. On a day when members of his Cabinet fanned out across the state to deliver a near-copy of the speech, Oswego County’s local government officials packed Fulton’s Common Council chambers to see the speech for themselves.
Cuomo’s head of the Environmental Facilities Corporation, former Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll, led the group on a 40-minute presentation.
He reviewed the administration’s accomplishments of the last year, which included:
- Closing a $10 billion deficit in the state budget without gimmicks and tax increases;
- The property tax cap;
- Regional economic development councils;
- Ethics reform;
- New tax brackets for high earners;
- Marriage equality.
“There is so much more to do,” Driscoll 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, and together we can do it,” he said.
But the Governor is making no promises on the issue that matters most to counties and local governments — reducing the cost of state mandates.
Instead, Cuomo is turning the work over to a committee. The group’s report will be given to the state Legislature in hopes that it will take up laws to reduce the cost of state-mandated programs.
“I know that he’s committed that there’s an open discussion and all ideas are on the table so we can find some meaningful relief in terms of unfunded mandates,” Driscoll told Oswego County Today after the speech.
The State Association of Counties said on Monday that counties bear more than $11 billion in unfunded mandates from Albany, more than $7 billion of which is the cost of the Medicaid health care program.
“I think it will be touched on with the mandate relief, it will be part of the big picture,” said County Legislator Mike Kunzwiler, the minority leader.