Reining in unfunded mandates, broadband expansion and improving the lot of dairy farmers were among the 2013 goals the area’s legislators set for themselves Monday during the Otsego County Chamber’s annual State of the State breakfast at SUNY Oneonta.
State Sen. James, R-Milford, told the crowd of about 100 at the Morris Conference Center that he supported the 2 percent cap on property tax levies when it passed in June 2011, but said the Legislature promised to enact mandate relief in tandem with the cap.
“There’s been precious little mandate relief,” he conceded. “There’s been some (but) we need to make good on that promise, to really deal with the issue of property taxes in New York state.”
Members of the panel — Seward; U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook; and Assemblymen Bill Magee, D-Nelson; Peter Lopez, R-Schoharie; and Clifford Crouch, R-Guilford — each were given a specific set of issues to address during the discussion, but that didn’t stop them from reinforcing what other panelists said.
Magee, called upon to discuss agriculture, for example, echoed Seward’s comments about mandate relief.
“Unfortunately, there hasn’t been enough,” he said, pointing to the effects the cap was having on school districts.
“They’ve got problems,” he said, adding cuts in state aid dealt the schools a second blow.
Magee also said he was gratified by Gibson’s advocacy for a comprehensive farm bill in the coming session.
“Dairy farmers do have a very serious problem,” Magee said. “They work hard to produce a quality product. They put it on somebody else’s truck, pay that truck to take it to market and say, ‘Send me what you want.’
“They have no idea when it leaves the farm what they’re going to receive for that milk because it depends on a federal marketing order, something that really, seriously needs to be addressed.”