We've had some discussion on The Batavian about "where are the local Democrats on the state budget." I've made at least one similar statement, and it's also come up in comments.
As part of an e-mail exchange today with Genesee County Democratic Chair Lorie Longhany, I asked Lorie for her statement on the budget. Below is her statement, but she also said her teaching duties have been pretty full the past week or so.
Here's her statement:
While the budget has been controversial and has been the subject of much criticism, what needs to be considered is the unprecedented fiscal crisis that New York is facing.
The budget closes the largest spending gap in state history -- 17.7 billion, 12 billion including the stimulus. It includes 6.5 billion in spending cuts, nearly twice the amount of cuts as any governor from either party has ever proposed.
From the budget itself on the STAR rebate: The Enacted Budget eliminates the STAR rebate program as well as the corresponding enhanced NYC STAR tax credit, producing savings of $1.5 billion in 2009-10. Even after this action, the STAR exemption program and NYC STAR credit will continue to provide $3.3 billion in property tax relief.
Additionally, the Executive Budget proposal to decrease the “floor” reduction – the maximum reduction in STAR benefits that can occur as a result of changes in assessed value or market value –from 18 percent to 11 percent is not included in the Enacted Budget.
Cuts to health care waste and inefficiency, reforming the Rockefeller Drug Laws, the bottle bill and a temporary increase in personal income tax that progressively targets those making over $300,000 + help to reduce the gap. The increase in spending is the result of stimulus money that will be redistributed throughout the state for infrastructure and job creation.
The budget is painful and not perfect, with some targeted cuts that I personally didn't agree with, but the situation that led us to this place culminated long before Governor Paterson and the newly elected Senate Democrats took over. Tough times call for shared sacrifice and shared solutions.
Now is the time for New Yorkers to come together and find viable solutions, not waste time with talk of division and secession. Bringing high speed rail to fruition and creating a linkage between our upstate agri-businesses and downstate markets can bridge the divide and help both areas of the state to connect and flourish.