PLATTSBURGH — North Country lawmakers are hoping the tentative state budget agreement will prove a step in the right direction.
"There's no new taxes, spending has been cut, and there is no new borrowing," Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) said.
"Hopefully, this will help spur some economic growth, which would be good for the North Country."
DEVIL IN DETAILS
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver have reached a tentative agreement on a $132.5 billion budget that features significant spending cuts.
The budget is due April 1, which is Friday, and lawmakers are hoping the deal is approved by then.
"I'm happy they have a budget agreement, but the devil is always in the details," said Clinton County Administrator Michael Zurlo.
Conference committees from both houses will meet this week to finalize the plan, and more details are expected to emerge as the week goes on.
Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (R-Peru) said it is important to get a budget done on time this year. The state budget has been late many years going back to the 1980s.
"We need an on-time budget for everybody," Duprey said.
"As difficult as it might be, people need to know what it is."
While details of the spending plan were still being ironed out, Duprey said, she will be watching closely, especially at how prisons would be affected.
Cuomo's plan calls for a reduction of 3,700 beds in state correction facilities, but how that would be implemented had not been revealed yet.
"We are always concerned about that," Duprey said. "There have been no lists yet, but we will be reaching out to those we have to and keep a close eye on it."
Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward (R-Willsboro) hopes the proposed budget will lead to reducing the state's $10 billion deficit.
"Spending needed to be curtailed because we were spending outside our limits, and we just can't keep doing that," she said.
NO TAX CAP
Little hopes the budget approach this year will send the right message.
"We need to change the perception of this state as one with high taxes and a lot of regulations so more businesses will want to come here, and hopefully, this is a start," she said.
County executives across the state have been lobbying Albany for a 2-percent property-tax cap that would be accompanied with a mandate-relief package.
Committees were established by the governor, who took office, Jan. 1, to study those ideas earlier this year. But recommendations did not make it into the budget agreement.
Duprey said a few months is not long enough for the state to tackle such large issues as a tax cap and mandate relief.
"It might be better to get it away from the intensity of the budget process and sit down and come up with some meaningful plans."
MAYBE ON TIME
City of Plattsburgh Mayor Donald Kasprzak said he was disappointed there was no mandate relief.
"Mandates directly affect every city, town, village and county in this state, and until this issue is resolved there can be no long-term fiscal success in this state," he said.
"A tax cap has to go along with meaningful mandate relief, regardless of when it is approved," he said.
Little, Duprey and Sayward all said they believe a final budget plan will be approved in the next few days.
In the past, special-interest groups have picked apart tentative budget agreements at the last minute, causing the April 1 deadline to be missed.
Little said she does not see that happening this year.
"A lot of them got a little of something, so I don't see them complaining as much.
"At some point they need a dose of reality, and they have to understand that it's not business as usual anymore."
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