Local leaders optimistic about Cuomo's plans

By Matt Porter

January 8, 2014 Updated Jan 8, 2014 at 8:04 PM EDT

Albany, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Governor Cuomo's 2014 State of the State address left out controversial topics including fracking and any mention of the New York SAFE Act.

Instead, the governor focused on issues that could be more appealing to Democrats and Republicans alike.

State Senator Tom Libous (R-52nd) said the Governor's plan to target at least $2 billion in investments in education for technology and high performing teachers is something he could agree with.

"We have to be accountable to taxpayers and I think that's important," Libous said. "If we can invest those tax dollars in infrastructure and education. I think they'll be appreciative to that."

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-123rd) agreed with the Governor's plan to expand universal pre-Kindergarten.

"I think the big takeaway for education is his commitment to universal pre-K for our schools, and that's something that all of my constituents and my schools are interested in," Lupardo said.

Legislators were disappointed the governor did not mention ending the gap elimination adjustment which could bring underfunded schools more general support.

Local leaders visiting Albany were very excited about the governor's plan to bring a two-year property tax freeze for New York counties.

Broome County executive Debbie Preston (R) said she thinks many towns can meet the requirements of staying under the 2 percent tax cap and finding plans for consolidation of services.

"Like the governor says it's sort of like one team, and I foresee some big opportunities out there that we can share services," Preston said.

Binghamton mayor Rich David (R) said his city is already looking at ways to consolidate services, but he does have concerns about what happens after the two-year freeze.

"This is only a two-year cap, so when that goes away it really is the municipalities that could be left dealing with the shortfall," David said.

Assemblyman Cliff Crouch (R-122) said the 2014 plan from Cuomo is far less controversial than the year before when the governor pushed forward the SAFE Act.

"I would say it's much more bi-partisan," Crouch said. "There seems to be a lot less drama, so I think that's a starting point for better working relations."

State Senator James Seward (R-51st) said he would have liked to see more attention on mandate relief and eliminating the gap elimination adjustment for schools, but he's optimistic.

"We're not going to agree on everything but we're going to work these things out and move forward for the people of the state of New York," Seward said. "It was the type of speech that the devil will be in the details, but I think we can work those things out and really move the state forward."

Legislators from the Southern Tier did not comment specifically on their position for medical marijuana in New York.

The governor will not have to reveal how he will go about or pay for these plans until his budget address, which is in a little more than a month.