OSWEGO, NY – Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul was in the Port City Friday to deliver some regional highlights of the state’s recently passed 2018 budget.
She spoke to a large crowd in the Council Chambers at City Hall. Members of the general public as well as some city and county officials were on hand for her talk.
The Lieutenant Governor reiterated Andrew Cuomo’s commitment to Upstate and CNY in particular.
“It’s not about who has the most clout in the legislature anymore,” she said. “It’s about where the needs are.”
The Governor’s tax cap plan gives municipalities some stability so they can better plan their budgets, she said.
Included in the budget is a mandate for a county-wide shared services property tax savings plan.
“It calls on the county leaders to convene their local elected officials from all walks of government in a room and just say, ‘where can we share services?’ It’s a shared prosperity approach,” she said.
She also touched on the Governor’s plan for college tuition.
They aren’t handing someone a check, they have to do some work, she explained.
“We’re investing in you. People say there are strings attached. There’s one string. We say if we’re using taxpayer dollars to invest in your future, you have to invest in the state of New York,” she said.
If the student does leave the state, the grant is converted to a loan.
The program begins for families this fall, she added.
Some other highlights she mentioned included bringing Uber to the Upstate region, trying to reduce the high cost of prescription medicine and the fight against opioid addiction.
While the state is moving in a positive direction, she noted after her presentation, New York is concerned about potential cuts in the president’s tentative budget that could negatively impact the Empire State.
“The Governor asked me to go to Washington, not once but twice, in the last month to lead our delegation. It was bipartisan, I talked to everyone,” she said.
Part of the conversation dealt with the affect of repealing the Affordable Care Act.
“It could penalize New York State to the tune of $2.3 billion; a Medicaid plan that would treat New York State different from any other state and strip that money from us to what end? To make the state taxpayers pay for it?” the Lieutenant Governor said.
“We have been really rallying our elected officials … we’re trying to sound the alarm that there are a lot of people, people that need health care, people who take advantage of food pantries, that get support from the state, people getting subsidies treatment – we’re very concerned about areas like this,” she continued. “You have Lake Ontario and the Seaway; what’s going to happen if you don’t get the investments and keep our environment clean? What is the option? Put it on the state of New York taxpayers?”
That’s why the Governor built some flexibility into his budget, she said.
“But I’m really hoping that our elected representatives here for the state of New York will speak on behalf of the people they represent and fight against those kind of cuts,” she said.