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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara

"The new Cuomo budget"

ALBANY, Jan. 23 -- The headline says the “new” Cuomo budget, but plenty of what we heard
from Governor Andrew Cuomo during his 2012-2013 state budget presentation in Albany last week sure sounded a lot like last year – and that’s a great sheet of music to keep reading from.

No new or higher state taxes or fees. None of the fiscal gimmickry and gamesmanship that’s been included in so many executive budget proposals in the past. Another year-to-year decrease in overall spending. The continuing overhaul of the state bureaucracy.

In short, the Governor handed us another straightforward budget strategy that led me to remark, in my initial reaction, that the “core proposals underpinning this fiscal strategy remain true to last year’s building blocks for getting state and local taxpayers out from under America’s highest tax burden, creating more cost-effective government across the board, and encouraging sustained private-sector job growth.”

But (and there has to be at least one but? in a $132-billion proposal) in this column last week I had also previewed the governor’s plan by expressing the hope that it would include a bold move on mandate relief. We didn’t get a bold move, but we did get the beginnings of one by way of a
proposal for a three-year state takeover of future local Medicaid growth increases. This specific initiative mirrors legislation I introduced last year (S.5787) with local Assemblymen Phil Palmesano and Chris Friend, although we called for an immediate takeover of these local Medicaid cost increases as opposed to the governor’s three-year phase-in.

So it wasn’t a bold move, but it was a steady step. Beginning a total state takeover of local Medicaid costs would mark a true turnaround in the state-local partnership and a true victory for local property taxpayers. It would keep building a new system of Medicaid that’s going to be more cost effective for taxpayers, less abused and wasteful, and more efficient for patients. It took decades for this system to spiral out of control and it’s going to take some time to fix it, but we’re going to fix it. The governor’s proposal moves in the right direction on this front, but I think we should find a way to do even more this year. Stay tuned.

Overall, Governor Cuomo’s plan, and his call for continued bipartisan cooperation to achieve it, bodes well for one more repeat from last year – the enactment of an on-time budget.

The annual unveiling of the proposed executive budget marks the traditional first move in New York’s budget making process. What’s next? It remains the Legislature’s responsibility to pull apart the fabric of the Cuomo plan and more fully assess how it would impact our local communities. This nuts-and-bolts analysis is already underway. The Legislature’s fiscal committees will also begin a series of public hearings this week, starting on Monday, January 23 with testimony from state agency heads and others on the proposals for elementary and secondary education.

I’ll do my best to keep you updated on important developments. Currently on my website,, you can visit a “Get the Facts” page (click on the “Get the Facts” icon in the left-hand column of the home page). Here you’ll find, for example, a link to the State
Division of the Budget website where there’s a comprehensive range of detailed information on the Cuomo plan, including the budget books themselves. You can also find a schedule for the Legislature’s budget hearings and a link to live Senate webcasts of each one. There’s also a link to the Cuomo administration’s new, interactive website -- -- to "bring New Yorkers together to learn about the Governor's agenda and to help inform the public about the latest on key initiatives.”

Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara


Schuyler County Officials

Legislature Members:

Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison

Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field


Legislature Chairman

Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687

Legislature Members:

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
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3201
DC Phone: 202-224-6542
DC Fax: 202-228-3027
Email Address:

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand

United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
DC Phone: 202-224-4451

State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)

Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2091
Fax: (518) 426-6976

Assemblyman Christopher Friend -- Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
Room 720, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (518) 455-4538


© The Odessa File 2011
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869