One of the underlying elements of the State of the State address is Cuomo’s clear, continuing recognition of the North Country and other regions as having unique needs, Douglas said.
He said the way the governor has embraced the Adirondack Challenge, a national whitewater paddling competition, is evidence that he is listening to ideas that come from the various regions across the state.
Douglas said the North Country Regional Economic Development Council welcomes these additional competition-based funding plans. That is evidenced by its success as a Top Plan designee during the first two rounds of funding.
Cuomo also proposes to reduce the cost of unemployment and workers compensation insurance to businesses. Reforms could save businesses up to $1.3 billion while also increasing benefits to workers for the first time since 1999, he said.
Scozzafava said initial discussions have aimed at a reduction in the administration of those programs. Douglas said talks have included labor leaders, as well as business advocates such as Unshackle Upstate and the Business Council of New York.
An extension of the number of days students spend in school each year and universal pre-K are proposed as ways to increase student achievement. Scozzafava said the pre-K initiative, with five hours per day for five days a week, is tentatively slated to receive state aid for school districts that opt in to provide that full-day program.
Another proposal would recognize some teachers as high performers, eligible to receive $15,000 more a year to mentor other teachers to become more successful educators.
CONDUIT TO ALBANY
The governor also called for an increase of the minimum wage to $8.75 an hour. Nineteen other states have a higher minimum wage than New York’s $7.25 an hour, Scozzafava said.
That is not slated to be done in phases, at this time, she said, but again, that depends on the upcoming budget negotiations.
Scozzafava said what’s important about these regional presentations is not simply what she tells those who make up the audience.
“It’s me, listening, me taking your questions back to Albany,” she said. “The role you play in that is very important.”
Email Dan Heath dheath@press republican.com