In a statement after final passage of the state budget Tuesday, North Country state Sen. Darrel Aubertine expressed relief that the process was complete and regret that it lasted so long.
Aubertine’s statement follows:
“Today, we closed down the budget process by passing a revenue bill that keeps my commitment to the people of Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties to block the governor’s proposed new taxes. After months of frustration that we all felt, this budget, while far from perfect, is a considerable improvement on where we were April 1.
“In the end, we passed a budget that not only rejected tax increases, but made real and substantial cuts to control our state’s spending. This budget restored funding that brings a return on investment for our local communities, be it parks and historic sites or agricultural programs benefitting the state’s number one industry. This budget protects jobs, especially those at Ogdensburg Correctional Facility, and implements new programming to create new ones.
“I am not happy with the fact that this process took this long. It points to the need for reform and change in the budget process. The very changes which had been rejected for decades, but are now gaining momentum, be it an independent budget office or performance based budgeting to make our state’s departments and bureaucracies accountable. As we saw in the findings of the bipartisan Task Force on Government Efficiency reports, we must be vigilant in finding ways to save money by seeking out the waste and making our state more efficient.
“In addition to closing down the budget process, we sent a strong message once again to our colleagues in the Assembly that we will not sit idly by while the people of this state clamor for property tax relief. For the third time in about two years, I voted for a property tax cap which is the first step toward comprehensive relief that must also include mandate relief and a circuit breaker, along with a change in the aid formula to address the needs of low wealth school districts upstate.
“Moving forward, we must continue to look for efficiencies and ways to reduce spending so that the taxpayers of this state can find the relief that is long overdue.”
--Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine