Lawmakers say primary budgetary concern is public safety

Lawmakers say primary budgetary concern is public safety

WNYT Staff
Updated: January 21, 2020 07:32 PM
Created: January 21, 2020 07:21 PM

The governor's budget address starts a process that is supposed to end with an agreement on a final spending plan by April 1.

That process will include legislative hearings and additional spending requests from state lawmakers.


NewsChannel 13 spoke with local lawmakers and all of them said "the devil's in the details" and details were not something they got from the governor's address Tuesday afternoon.

Lawmakers in both houses and in both major parties all saying their primary concern is public safety in the wake of bail and discovery reforms that took effect on January 1.

Senator Jim Tedisco

Republican Senator Jim Tedisco of Glenville says he wanted to hear more details about the governor's plan to change how schools receive state funding through foundation aid. Based on the details he heard, Tedisco doesn't believe the plan will address the spending disparity that exists between low and high income districts.

Tedisco says he was also disappointed that the governor didn't address the St. Clare's pension crisis at all. He says the some $50 million needed to make those pensions whole is a meager amount compared to the billions he's promising to new programs.

Tedisco says the governor wasn't clear on how the $6 billion deficit will be closed. He fears it could ultimately mean collecting more local tax dollars.

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara

Democratic Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara is frustrated that the governor didn't make services for disabled New Yorkers a priority in this year's budget. He also reiterated issues with funding ambulance services. He says first responders often save lives in rural areas where the trip to the hospital can get lengthy.

Santabarbara says schools in his district like Schenectady and Mohanasen have been waiting years for sufficient funding from the state.

Tedisco and Santabarbara are also concerned about public safety since bail and discovery reforms went into effect January 1. Though the governor did address that, they say there were no specific details on what changes need to be made and when those changes will be discussed by lawmakers.

Remember, bail reform was a policy that passed in the budget last year, and Santabarbara says the governor is doing the same exact thing this year with legal recreational marijuana use.

Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner

Another big issue on the minds of Capital Region lawmakers is education spending. Governor Cuomo is proposing a three percent bump in foundation aid for schools and he says he wants to change the formula used to determine how much funding a school is eligible for.

Democratic Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner says those changes could help, but it all depends on how that foundation aid formula is changed.

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