State Sen. Catharine Young responded favorably to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 2014 Executive Budget Address, indicating that many of his proposals soundly mirrored the Senate's own initiatives.
"Jobs and economic opportunities are paramount, and the governor's focus on making New York a more affordable place to live and work is right on target," said Young, R-Olean.
Young praised the governor's focus on manufacturing, namely his proposal to lower the tax rate on income for upstate manufacturers from 5.9 percent to zero.
"Manufacturing jobs especially drive the upstate economy and reducing manufacturing taxes ... (is) key," Young said.
The reduction of small business taxes and the elimination of utility taxes on employers and residential consumers was also met favorably.
"Property tax relief continues to be a top concern of my constituents, and the governor spoke extensively about reducing the suffocating property tax burden, which is something I fully support," Young said.
The governor's plan to provide $1.2 billion in capital funding for hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities was particularly satisfying for Young, who says she has worked tirelessly to prevent Lake Shore Hospital in Irving from closing.
"It clearly shows that we can make a difference," Young said. "More than 1,000 people showed up at our recent Rally to Save Lake Shore, and their voices definitely were heard all the way to Albany. I am optimistic we will be victorious."
Young indicated that she will work extensively as a member of the Senate Health budget negotiating team to strengthen local hospitals, many of which she categorizes as "distressed."
The governor's budget also addressed public education, and how it hopes to provide an $807 million increase in education aid for the 2014-15 school year. High-need school districts will receive over 70 percent of the allocated increase, according to the governor.
"My top concern is making sure our schools receive the funding necessary to provide outstanding education to our children," Young said. "I will be closely reviewing (the governor's) proposals and getting feedback from my schools, teachers and parents about these issues."
Young further voiced her concerns over the Common Core system, particularly its reliance on high-stakes testing and the notion of children's personal information being shared with third parties.
"I will be advocating for significant changes to the State Education Department's current program," Young said. "There is a great deal to analyze in the budget, and I will continue to work on behalf of my district during budget negotiations."
Assemblyman Joseph Giglio, R-Gowanda, said he was happy to hear Cuomo acknowledge the inefficiency in the Common Core program, and to hear him call for a comprehensive review of the program and standardized testing practices. "For quite some time, I have been calling for adjustments to fix the program for our children and our teachers. Also, the proposed increase of school aid by 3.8 percent is a great first step, as the funds coming from the state help alleviate the local property taxes on homeowners," he said.
Another important theme to Giglio was the importance of tax reform and upstate economic development efforts. "Particularly, I was impressed with proposals that include the elimination of the temporary tax on commercial utility bills, the phase out of that tax for all other utility bills, and tax relief for businesses and manufacturers. It's time that New York recognizes the need to focus on recruiting and retaining our commercial industries and small businesses," he said.
Giglio added that he continues to oppose the idea of using taxpayer money to pay for political campaigns. "Rather, we should focus on comprehensive mandate relief, including the streamlining and elimination of many burdensome agency regulations. Mandate relief for our localities will create opportunities for job growth and further property-tax relief for middle-class families," he said.