Rockland County’s representatives in the state legislature described Gov. presentation as lean, more cost-efficient and on target to address the state’s needs. The budget, unveiled on Tuesday, does not call for new taxes or fees.
“While this budget does indeed control spending, it also makes much-needed investments in our infrastructure, particularly when it comes to rebuilding our roads and bridges,” said Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Orange).
“Rebuilding infrastructure means rebuilding our economy, plain and simple.”
The New York Works program offers $1.16 billion in new funding. Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski (D-New City) noted that the program will seek to leverage billions more from federal, authority and private sources to rebuild infrastructure.
Both Carlucci and Zebrowski commented on the status of the Tappan Zee Bridge. Carlucci described it as a project long overdue. Zebrowski said since the current plan do not include a mass transit component as part of the new span, he wants to see goals set for five or six years in the future for building out the mass transit portion.
Zebrowski spoke about the need for pension reform and the governor’s proposal for establishing a new Tier VI. The new tier would raise the retirement age, remove overtime as a factor in calculating payments to retired employees and create an optional defined contribution alternative similar to a 401(k) plan.
“I think we need to make reforms to keep pace with the times,” he said.
The representatives noted the attention given Mandate Relief specifically Medicaid.
“One of the ways we can provide relief is to have the state take over the growth in the local share of Medicaid over a three-year period, as the Governor alluded to in his speech,” said Carlucci.
Zebrowski noted the proposal should start helping local governments, which have been struggling with the growing cost.
Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern) had been hopeful more would be proposed.
“This essential step towards mandate relief is not as comprehensive as I have previously advocated for and would still prefer, but is nevertheless a step in the right direction,” said Jaffee, who represents the 95th District.
“This measure will start by capping increases at 2% starting in 2013-14 and will be reduced by an additional 1% each year until 2015 when the County’s share of Medicaid will not grow,” said Zebrowski who represents the 94th District.
Jaffee pointed out some portions of the governor’s budget presentation that address concerns of Rockland residents
“Also encouraging was his promise to unleash a second, fully-funded wave of economic development grants through the Regional Economic Development Councils,” she said. “I stand ready to work with and advocate for Rockland County businesses in this process so that they have a greater voice in the competition for these funds.”
She spoke about his commitment to fund energy infrastructure projects to bring upstate power to downstate communities.
“Only through such an investment can we hope to lay the groundwork for the eventual decommissioning of Indian Point,” said Jaffee.