To the Editor:
With the release of Governor Cuomo’s executive budget last week, New Yorkers were presented with both good and bad news. The bad news: state spending must change in order to close the current $10 billion deficit. The good news: the governor and I agree that there needs to be a committed effort on restructuring government entities to reduce overlapping functions to not only save money, but also improve the quality of service.
I campaigned on a pledge to rein in the size and scope of state government, and I am pleased the executive budget demonstrates this type of commitment with the proposal to realign and consolidate 11 state agencies into four, with an estimated savings of $102.4 million to New York state taxpayers. Some of the governor’s proposed merges and consolidations include:
• Department of Correctional Services and Division of Parole, forming the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, for a projected savings of $6 million.
• Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, Office of Victim Services, State Commission of Correction, merging with the Division of Criminal Justice Services, for a projected savings of $477,000.
• Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation, merging with the Empire State Development Corporation, for a projected savings of $1.9 million.
I am also optimistic about the governor’s plan to create Regional Economic Development councils, headed by Lt. Governor Robert Duffy, which will work with state agencies on economic development and the allocation of state resources. However, I am concerned with the governor’s proposed “regions”, as the 122nd Assembly District is lumped in with more than a dozen other counties, stretching from Jefferson County to the border of Albany County, and excluding Oswego County. I will continue to monitor this proposal as it develops, as well as reach out to the lieutenant governor to ensure that the 122nd and Northern New York is adequately represented on this council and has fair access to the resources associated with the program.
This year’s budget process is going to be especially challenging and unlike any we’ve seen in years past. While I understand the need to “cut”, I am more interested in ways we can restructure, redesign and reform state government. The governor’s proposals to consolidate and merge several overlapping state agencies and create regional councils are good starting points on achieving that goal.
During the budget process, I want to hear your thoughts, comments and concerns on how these proposals will affect you, your community, your business, or your family. Please contact me at 315-287-2384 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush