Local News

January 6, 2011

Local leaders positive after State of the State

Local leaders positive after State of the State

PLATTSBURGH — North Country leaders liked what they heard from new Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his first State of the State address.

They just hope that his words translate into positive actions.

"I liked his message a lot," Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward (R-Willsboro) said.

"It's not going to be business as usual, and we will not simply see a budget with cuts to this and that, he is actually bringing in people to look at things like Medicaid and see how we can change it and find cost savings and still deliver the necessary services."

The state is facing a $10 billion budget deficit, and Cuomo pledged to address the gap with a number of budget-cutting measures, including cuts to the Medicaid health program for the poor and a freeze on state workers' pay for one year.

Sayward also said she liked Cuomo's pledge to look at why New York spends the most money on education in the nation yet is ranked 34th in school results.

"This all will not happen overnight," she said.

"There will be a transformation, but we have to start looking at the root causes of our problems."

State Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) said she also agreed with many of the governor's ideas.

"If we aren't optimistic about the future, the fortitude to make the tough decisions will be lacking," Little said.

"There's no question that closing the $10 billion deficit will require significant cuts to services and programs. Difficult choices have to be made, but they can and should be smart choices."

Little said she hopes the governor's immediate focus will not only be on closing the budget deficit, but on enacting a budget with an emphasis on long-term strategy to make the state a more affordable place to live down the road.

"That's why I believe a state-spending cap is one of the most important initiatives to adopt this year," Little said.

"A cap will provide the restriction needed to limit government's appetite for more tax dollars by controlling the rate at which spending increases in the future."

Little, who was elected to the Senate in 2002, said she liked the tone of the speech, calling it the best State of the State she has seen.

"You can tell that he (Cuomo) really loves the state, just not the condition that it's in," she said.

City of Plattsburgh Mayor Donald Kasprzak said the governor's approach is on track, and he supports a number of his initiatives.

"Drastic action must take place immediately for this state to deal with the deficit," Kasprzak said.

Plattsburgh/North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas, who is a member of Cuomo's transition team, said the speech was both sobering and encouraging.

"It was sobering in its clear recognition of the financial wall our state has hit with its unsustainable levels of spending and taxation," Douglas, who attended the speech Wednesday, said.

"And at the same time, it was encouraging in its commitment to tackle New York's situation through promised change and reform versus more of what has brought us to the brink of permanent decline."

Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (R-Peru) said she hopes at the end of this year people will be talking about all the good things that have been done by the state.

"Today was a day of rhetoric. Tomorrow we will see if we can turn it into reality," she said.

Duprey said Cuomo's willingness to help small businesses will spur more economic development.

"That's where the jobs come from," she said.

Duprey also said she was pleased that Cuomo promised to bring much-needed ethics reform to state government.

"His idea to re-invent, re-organize and re-design government is critical."

E-mail Joe LoTemplio at:

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