Assemblyman Marc Butler (R-Newport) says Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget plan shows a “lack of focus on the needs of our small communities,” and that he would try to get rural issues addressed in the final budget.
Butler, who represents the new 118th District, which includes a swath of St. Lawrence County townships from Madrid and Norfolk to Clifton and Fine, found “laudable” Cuomo’s plan to close a $1.3 million budget gap without raising taxes and “increased economic development efforts upstate,” but he said he was “struck by the lack of focus on the needs of our small communities. Yes, we need growth and we need opportunities, but I am not convinced that Mr. Cuomo has delivered solutions that cater to the needs of our area.”
Butler made note of the “unfunded mandate” question and on restructuring aid for public schools.
“Unfunded mandates are those costly edicts and programs sent to our schools and local governments from Albany, because politicians don’t want to pay the bill,” Butler charged.
He cited a report from the New York State Association of Counties that aid that just nine mandates consume 90 percent of the property tax levy.
Butler said that has resulted in cuts to local services and rising property taxes.
And those mandates are hindering the work of schools, too, he said. The governor has tried to improve the aid picture for schools, Butler said, but he wants to see “a consistent financial commitment from Albany to improve these high-need, rural schools.
“Gov. Cuomo has made a competition out of school aid through his competitive grant program, which naturally favors already excelling and wealthy school districts. Instead, we should invest this money where it’s needed most. There is no need to favor certain students based purely on geography and their community’s economic circumstances.”
Butler said he would be working to persuade his colleagues in the Democrat-dominated Assembly to address these issues.