As a concerned Northern New Yorker and former chair of the St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators, I was anxious to see what Gov. Andrew Cuomo was going to propose in his budget presentation on Jan. 22. As a strong supporter of the governor and his actions in his first two years, I hoped he would continue to be as fiscally responsible and focused on building a new New York. He did not disappoint me.
He is focused on all of New York state and very concerned about upstate New York. His regional economic conferences have provided a competitive opportunity for Northern New York to shine. We have been recognized for our efforts and been the recipient of major financial awards benefitting our area. For this, I thank Gov. Cuomo and Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy for their support of this concept.
With his Tier VI program and a provision in his budget for a stable rate pension contribution option, he has opened a door for local governments and school districts to begin to immediately obtain savings. The Workmens Compensation program is a program in need of reform. Gov. Cuomo has taken the lead by proposing reforms to again save our local governments and school districts money.
His proposal to raise the minimum wage is one I wholeheartedly support. The number of people living in this county on minimum wage when gasoline, fuel for their homes and food costs have risen at an incredible rate need this help. I would rather pay more for a service or product from our local small businesses than see so many of our fellow citizens trying to eke out a living on substandard incomes.
All in all, this budget is a fair one, which directs money to both upstate and downstate, to the east and to the west of New York. Gov. Cuomo has recognized in this budget and in his previous ones that we need to be fiscally responsible without abdicating our responsibility to our people and their needs and their rights.
Sallie A. Brothers