State legislators address business, early voting
PENN YAN-- Some 25 people attended a public meeting held by State Senator Tom O’Mara (R,C-Big Flats) and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning) Saturday, March 15. The legislators addressed several concerns at the Penn Yan village hall, answering the questions of area residents and officials.
One question revolved around benchmarking New York State with other states, to which O’Mara replied he is concerned with the business environment in the state. He said New York ranks 50th out of 50 states in business climate, adding Medicaid costs have been a driving factor as to why the state spends considerably more than others. The senator said the state had many years of a more than 2 percent tax increase, leading to a $10 billion deficit.
Palmesano said the state has taken good steps in turning that deficit into a projected surplus, but there is still more that can be done to limit spending.
“We went decades for spending way above the rate of inflation,” Palmesano said. “We are starting to get that under control but we have a long way to go.”
Penn Yan Trustee Rich Stewart asked the legislators what their position was on early voting, to which both replied they were against having it in the state.
“Early voting I do not support with the expense it would require for local board of elections paid for by the county,” O’Mara said. “I don’t see a need for it in New York State.”
Palmesano said it would require a minimum of five polling places in each county to be fully staffed and open for 15 days prior to the election. Both men said they do not think there is a need for it in New York City. They added if the state wishes to do this, they should provide the funds to do so.
“If it’s such a great idea, put the money behind it to back it up,” Palmesano said. “To have facilities staffed for 15 days would be an undue burden.”
The legislators also expressed their support for a proposed phased human services takeover plan that would deliver more tax relief to counties.
“Every county has high Medicaid costs,” O’Mara said. “I support the phased in takeover of Medicaid mandates and other state mandates for local governments.”
The senator said county governments implement and oversee Medicaid on a countywide basis but it is a program mandated to them by the state. O’Mara said the best way to real property tax relief is to takeover mandated programs. However, he added “it is not getting traction in Albany.”
Palmesano said it would be expensive for the state, but added they are in a better position to handle it than local governments. He added it would save counties $1.5 billion during a five year period. The assemblyman said the only way to “real significant relief” would be to force the state to deal with the Medicaid program, which he added is the most costly in the nation. Palmesano also said Gov. Andrew Cuomo has indicated he does not support that proposition, but it is the way the assemblyman would like to see the state go.