With 2011 underway, the two main legislative priorities of my Republican colleagues and I this year will be to cut government spending and reduce taxes. These are crucial steps that need to be taken to help revive our state economy.
One of the first orders of business for the Senate was to pass a spending cap for the state, which we did on Jan. 31. Hopefully, the Assembly will follow suit. We need to enact policies like these that will help to turn around the current fiscal situation and help New York State create a better economic environment for the future.
We, as a state, are in a difficult financial situation right now. New York State is losing jobs, and is already one of the heaviest taxed states in the country. In order to create jobs and grow our economy, we need to cut taxes and reduce government spending. These spending cuts need to be surgical. Fortunately, Governor Cuomo agrees. The Governor is going to have a partner in the Senate on the budget this year. We have a similar agenda when it comes to the economy of our state, and we are more than willing to work together to help resolve our state's fiscal problems. Additionally, my Republican colleagues and I are optimistic about the Assembly working with us on these issues. Normally it would be challenging to get spending reductions through the Assembly, but Speaker Sheldon Silver has actually talked about supporting a property tax cap. Hopefully he follows the public's desire to get spending under control.
The three costliest parts of the state budget are healthcare, education and personnel. New York provides more optional Medicaid coverages than any other state, which drives up the cost of healthcare to an unsustainable rate. We just simply cannot afford to offer some of these optional services any longer. As to personnel, the Governor said that he would like to see a wage freeze, and just like a business, sometimes there needs to be cuts to right-size government. We also need pension reform because the current system is unsustainable. Similarly, we need to provide sufficient state aid to educate our children, but school districts have to deliver a quality education more efficiently during these difficult economic times.