Local lawmakers react to Cuomo's budget

By Matt Porter
By Dave Greber

January 21, 2014 Updated Jan 22, 2014 at 12:46 AM EDT

Albany, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Many Southern Tier legislators on Tuesday lauded the fourth annual budget address by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Among the highlights of the $132 billion proposal, Gov. Cuomo drew the loudest applause when he announced a committee to examine the flaws of the Common Core implementation, including a promise to eliminate standardized testing for children in kindergarten through second grade.

Sen. James Seward (R-51st) said the governor needed to admit some failure in the Common Core implementation, something he didn't do during his state of the state address.

"The way the Common Core has been implemented by the Board of Regents and state education department has been just horrific in my mind," Seward said. "We need to step back, hit that pause button, let's reassess how we're going to do this, and let's get it right."

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-123rd) said she was happy to see $1.5 billion allocated over the next five years to make universal pre-K a reality.

"As the chair of the children and families committee," Lupardo said, "I'm thrilled with his focus on universal pre-K, high quality early childhood learning and after school programming."

Lawmakers said there is a lot to debate about the state's education system, although the notorious "gap elimination" wasn't mentioned during Cuomo's address Tuesday.

They said although the governor didn't include it in his budget address, it's expected both houses will take it up this year.

The other major focus was the revelation of the numbers behind the governor's proposed plans for tax relief.

The proposal includes a property tax freeze for eligible homeowners, manufacturing tax cuts, and a tax credit for low-income renters.

Assemblyman Cliff Crouch (R-122nd) said Cuomo's tax relief is a good start, but could be expanded.

"We've created special tax free zones and things like that, and I hope they work," Crouch said. "But, I say why don't we reduce taxes on all the businesses that way we'll really start driving some of the economy. We tax businesses way too much in this state."

Assemblyman Pete Lopez (R-102nd) said the state needs to be careful in how it allocates its newfound surplus.

"The big question is how are the resources best used," Lopez said.

Lopez said his rural district in Delaware County needs more general funding to keep schools and municipal offices up and running.

The legislature has until April 1 to come to an agreement before the next budget year begins.

If a budget is passed by that date, it will be the first time since 1973 the state has passed a budget on time for four consecutive years.

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