Cuomo lays out overly ambitious agenda for 2017

Early January is the time of the year when, traditionally, the governor outlines his policy agenda and budget for the coming year. This year, Gov. Cuomo has less than subtly broken away from tradition, conveniently avoiding delivering his State of the State Address to the Legislature, the people charged with protecting the interests of taxpayers.

Over 10 days, he delivered a piecemeal State of the State address regionally around the state. During these early weeks of the legislative session, the governor has been playing a game of control — control of information, control of the ‘facts,’ and control of the narrative. The agenda was laid out using multiple press releases on over 35 proposals.

How can anyone keep any of this straight? How is he going to accomplish his incredibly ambitious agenda? How will this all impact already tax-burdened New Yorkers?

In most cases, reasonable people can find common ground, areas where there is agreement. The governor spoke about committing more to the success of upstate New York, and I agree that if upstate is doing well the entire state benefits. I agree with a bottom-up approach to how our state operates. It’s our local municipalities which best know the issues facing our communities. They are also the ones who understand the solutions.

I look forward to learning more details about the investments Gov. Cuomo wishes to make to our infrastructure, including updating water and sewer systems to improve the safety of our drinking water. Upstate New York, especially in the Mohawk Valley and the North Country, needs a boost in infrastructure funding. Systems and structures are old and have endured years of harsh winters. I am glad the governor has echoed my calls to update our infrastructure.

The governor and I also agree there must be a continued effort to restore the public’s trust in its government. We do, however, disagree about how to accomplish this. I am proud to say that I have supported and continue to push for passage of Public Officers Accountability Act, which, if enacted, would create some of the toughest ethics laws and penalties for corruption-related crimes in the country. This is just one of the many measures I sponsor and support that would strengthen the integrity and transparency of our government.

The governor and I, however, disagree on how we would approach reviving upstate New York’s economy. I am very happy to have seen increased investment in our region, but have yet to see the results he touts in job growth, especially after the devastating news of AMS pulling out of the Nano Utica site — our region could have really used help from the governor’s office to secure this important job provider. I support broad relief that would allow small businesses, farmers and manufacturers to grow within our own communities.

The governor continues to tout programs, like his aggressive minimum wage increase, as boons to the economy. In reality, many of his proposals threaten job creators, especially small businesses, and their ability to provide employment opportunities in our communities. How does it benefit anyone if the businesses providing jobs have to close their doors because of the sharp increase in the minimum wage and the many other regulatory and tax burdens?

What the governor says and does are often contradictory. He says he’s going to lower the property tax burdens. He touts the 2-percent tax cap, which yes, is a tool to slow tax growth, but he ignores the larger problem, the numerous and cripplingly expensive unfunded state mandates on municipalities, which are the real reason property taxes are so high in our state.

The governor, throughout his state tour, has painted a picture far rosier than we have seen. While I would not characterize our state as in utter disarray, I would still argue that there is much work ahead. We need practical and results-driven solutions, not an agenda based on partisan ideology.

New York is a state brimming with potential; we just need the tools and the freedom to grow. Fix what is broken, continue what is working, and relieve the burden placed on taxpayers and we’ll see our state and its people thrive.

As, always, I welcome your input on this or any other legislative matter. Please contact me by calling my Herkimer office at 315-866-1632, my Johnstown office at 518-762-6486, or by email at butlerm@nyassembly.gov.

Assemblyman Marc W. Butler (R,C,I,Ref-Newport)

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