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Officials share state budget details ADVERTISEMENT

Officials share state budget details

PENN YAN--State Senator Tom O'Mara (R-Big Flats) and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R-Corning) visited the Yates County legislature Monday, Feb. 26 and shared information about the upcoming state budget and regional western New York issues.
The officials offered prepared comments to start the meeting and then answered legislator questions for about an hour. Some of the key topics from the meeting are outlined below.
State spending: O'Mara said the state's budget deficit problem has been talked about a lot.
O'Mara said Wall Street and the banks are coming off one of their best years ever so there has to be some money there someplace. O'Mara said the state doesn't have a revenue problem, but New York has a spending problem.
Unfunded state mandates: Legislator Tim Dennis asked the state officials to "draw a line in the sand" with the state regarding unfunded state mandates. Dennis said these mandates have gone on too long and politicians need to take a stand against the continuation of these mandates.
Harmful algal blooms: O'Mara commented on the state's plan to research harmful algal blooms and said he was not pleased the state did not include Seneca, Keuka or Canandaigua Lake with their initial research plan. Both politicians have sent a letter to state officials conducting the research and said it was unreasonable not to include these important lakes in western New York. He said the Finger Lakes Institute in Geneva is involved with their research. O'Mara said the 12 pilot studies across the state are moving along quickly and they will be trying different strategies to combat the problem.
Using resources from the Clean Water Infrastructure Act and the Environmental Protection Fund, the state will implement a $65 million initiative to combat harmful algal blooms in upstate New York water bodies.
School safety: O'Mara said mental health beds in facilities around the state have been reduced.
O'Mara said the governor boasts about the results of the SAFE Act, but the mental health aspect related to gun safety is a problem. O'Mara said the state needs to do more for mental health screening and treatment.
Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS): Both Palmesano and O'Mara talked about the importance of the CHIPS program. Palmesano said the state may try to cut $65 million from the CHIPS funding program (not a direct cut, but due to the formula for local revenue share).
He realizes this program is especially helpful to local municipalities to fix the roads that are priorities for local governments. Palmesano said he is working to re-state the full CHIPS amount and he encouraged highway personnel from across the state to attend the CHIPS show of support in Albany this year.
State and local taxes (SALT): The governor has offered the idea of New Yorkers claiming a donation on their tax returns for the payment of their property taxes with the new federal tax cap program. O'Mara doesn't think this idea has much merit. O'Mara said he expects the new federal income tax plan will benefit the majority of his constituents in western New York but agreed some taxpayers in wealthy suburban or metropolitan areas will be negatively impacted by the new tax law.
Revenue sharing from casino gaming: O'Mara said he is not aware of any break with the stand-off between the state and the Seneca Nation officials to restore the revenue share from casino gaming Yates County previously received. Local officials also asked the state representative to inquire why Yates County has not been included with revenue sharing from the new delLago Casino. (Schuyler County is receiving revenue from delLago.)
The meeting was adjourned at 2:45 p.m.







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