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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara
“After the budget, agenda still full”
ALBANY, April 4 -- How’s this for a quote summing up the recently enacted New York State budget, from a constituent who left the following post on my Facebook page late last week? “It’s a start, but don’t break your arms patting yourselves on the back.”
Never let it be said that the people you represent in this line of work won’t always do their best to help keep it in perspective – to keep your head out of the clouds, your feet on the ground and, yes, even your arms all in one piece. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Because the serious fact is, this year’s budget is only a start. Far from ending the controversies, challenges, and difficult choices that have already defined it, this budget really is just the beginning of the hard work facing New York government. There’ll be no let-up. This budget takes painful steps to impose the fiscal discipline that’s needed for any long-term turnaround for taxpayers, but maintaining this discipline is going to be even harder. Special interest groups will come out of the woodwork now to redouble their efforts to restore Albany’s tax-and-spend ways.
This budget begins a commitment to the upstate economy that’s been ignored in Albany for far too long. Now the hard work starts to ensure that the cornerstones of this new upstate strategy, including a slate of regional economic development councils, make a difference.
And one of the driving forces behind this budget is to create a better business climate in New York, where the current climate has been ranked as America’s worst. The executive director of the upstate advocacy group known as Unshackle Upstate, said, “I don’t think anyone is fully convinced that New York State is open for business. But I think we’ve opened the door a bit and let people take a peek inside.” Now the hard part: how to make sure that a peek inside leads to a step through a door that’s wide open to as many businesses (and the private-sector jobs they create) as possible and how to restore some confidence to New York’s employers.
Because what this budget is going to immediately produce -- long before its fiscal discipline and economic commitment have a chance to begin working -- will be renewed shouting over what it does wrong, where it falls short, and what it ignores. We’re hearing it already.
That’s fair enough, up to a point. These choices have not come easy. I’ve already said that New York is going to have to face these economic and fiscal battlegrounds for the foreseeable future. Our responsibility will be to ensure that this budget does what it’s intended to do and that we’re on top of every adjustment that’s going to be needed. We’re not going to get it all right, all at once, and we have to stand ready to find better ways.
That’s not to say, by any means, that we don’t stand strong and stay committed to what this year’s budget does right:
-- It was enacted on time. The late state budget has long stood as the symbol of dysfunctional state government. More effective government starts with a pretty straightforward, time-honored principle: a solid work ethic. In other words, get your job done when it’s supposed to be done;
-- For the first time in 15 years, this budget includes a year-to-year state spending decrease. This fiscal discipline has to remain standard operating procedure across New York government; and
-- This budget reduces New York’s projected budget deficit next year from $15 billion to approximately $2 billion, and it does it without new state borrowing or taxing.
This year’s emphasis on fiscal discipline and economic responsibility deserves to stand as the hallmark of the new state budget.
Because it’s about time. It’s definitely a good start. Now we get back to work.
Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara
Schuyler County Officials
Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison
Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field
Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687
Michael A. Yuhasz, 535-4967
Doris L. Karius, 546-5544
Barbara Halpin, 594-3683
Glenn R. Larison, 594-3385
Thomas M. Gifford, 535-9517
Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen 481-0482
Stewart Field, Watkins Glen 535-2335
County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133
Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222
Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222
County Treasurer: Margaret Starbuck, 535-8181
District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383
State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County
Sen. Charles E. Schumer
United States Senate
Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand
United States Senate
State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)
Room 415, Legislative Office Building
Assemblyman Christopher Friend --
Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869