Two St. Lawrence County Assembly representatives working on bipartisan Joint Budget Committee
Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 6:36 am

As the state Assembly and Senate work toward a budget for the next fiscal year, two North Country Assembly members are working on different sections of the plan as part of a Joint Budget Committee.

The committee consists of state assembly members and senators who will negotiate the finer points of the budget to ready it for what they hope will be an “on-time” passage by the statutory April 1 deadline

Marc W. Butler (R,C,I-Newport) was named to work on economic development issues on the Joint Budget Committee..

Butler, whose 118th District includes a swath of St. Lawrence County from Clifton, Clare and Fine north to Norfolk and Madrid, says economic development is key to New York Sate.

“As we negotiate the budget, it’s critically important we make sure that our state dollars go back into helping our economy grow and thrive,” said Butler. “Every dollar spent must be to help New Yorkers get back to work and give mom-and-pop shops the ability thrive and grow. That’s where our attention should be in the budget process and I am eager to work with my colleagues to pass a budget that does these things.”

Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush (R-Black River), who 117th district includes much of southern St. Lawrence County, was named to represent the Assembly Republican Conference for the Human Services portion of the Joint Budget Committee.

“It’s important that we always make sure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and maximized for efficiency,” said Blankenbush, who, in part, represents townships in southwest St. Lawrence County. “My goal is to ensure we provide great services to the people of this state while protecting the taxpayer money.”

Butler, meanwhile, is not completely critical of what his Democratic colleagues have brought to the negotiations.

“There are portions of the one-house budget bill offered by the Assembly Democrats that show promise,” Butler said. “I appreciate the effort to increase foundation aid for our local schools and community colleges which help our students achieve success and opportunities and successful careers. I am pleased by their proposed restoration to our services to people with developmental disabilities; it’s important that we care for our most vulnerable even in difficult times. I also agree with the proposed increased aid to our municipalities who are struggling under the new tax cap.

“I am, however, absolutely baffled by the push for the Dream Act, which would give college tuition aid to illegal aliens when most middle class families can hardly pay for higher education for their own children,” Butler said. “I am troubled by what appears to be a shift from a regional approach to economic development to one that would send economic development funding through an unspecified process.”