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January 24, 2013

Cuomo's budget proposal outlined in Oneonta

RoAnn Destito, commissioner of the state Office of General Services, brought Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2013 budget to Otsego County on Tuesday with a presentation at the State University College at Oneonta.

Narrating a slideshow prepared by the governor’s office, Destito, a former assemblywoman from Utica, broadly outlined the administration’s plan to reform numerous state programs, such as workers’ compensation, while introducing a series of programs intended to boost the state’s economy by creating a better-educated workforce and promoting New York state products and tourism.

Among the areas targeted for reform are unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation, initiatives that Destito said were “strongly linked” to the governor’s plan to raise the state’s minimum wage to $8.75 an hour from $7.25.

“He wants the workers’ comp and unemployment reform to mitigate the cost” of the minimum-wage increase, she said after the formal presentation.

Oneonta Mayor Dick Miller, who attended Destito’s presentation, gave it a mixed review.

“First of all, it’s the executive budget, and it’s long way between the executive budget and the adopted budget,” he cautioned. “That said, there are a couple of things that jumped out on the positive side.”

For example, “any program that makes it possible for local governments to deal with the spiraling pension costs issue has got to be welcomed,” he said.

Miller was referring to the Stable Rate Pension Contribution Option under the Tier VI program that “would allow local governments and school districts to lock in long-term, stable-rate pension contributions for a period of years,” according to budget material the governor’s office released Tuesday.

On the other hand, “there was not one word about mandated relief,” the mayor said.

Cuomo’s “whole program of 2 percent property tax cap was to be tied to mandate relief,” Miller said. “He talked about it last year, and there was no mandate relief. But today there wasn’t even a mention of it.”

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