Jan 27, 2014 Joe Genco Uncategorized
RoAnn Destito, New York State commissioner of the Office of General Services, gave a presentation on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget proposal at Skaneateles Library on Jan. 22.
The presentation highlighted Cuomo’s plan for spending and some of the special initiatives and policies he plans to implement in 2014.
Of interest to Skaneateles-area residents were funding for education, a program to freeze property taxes for residents and funding for access to public lands.
The budget calls for a 3.8 percent increase in school aid across the state, though Skaneateles is set to receive a 3.2 percent decrease, according to governor.ny.gov.
In addition to school aid, DeSito talked about the importance of funding for schools and education programs.
“The best long-term economic development strategy is to have the best education system, and the best education system will lead to good jobs with a good workforce,” she said.
One such program is a proposed $1.5 billion over five years for a state-funded universal pre-K program.
Skaneateles Board of Education member Sue Benjamin asked if the pre-K program would involve already existing non-profit nursery school programs or if it would utilize public school facilities. DeSito said the plan is to expand into school districts, but the governor wants to look into all options.
School board members in attendance also noted that the state is not mandating or providing additional assistance for full-day kindergarten. Skaneateles switched to full-day kindergarten this year in coincidence with the implementation Common Core.
DeSito also said Cuomo plans to create a panel to investigate the statewide implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards. Cuomo supports the Common Core, but wants to have better strategies for implementing it, which has been a tough process for many, she said.
The panel will also review the proposal to eliminate all standardized testing for kindergarten through second grade.
Another program of note to Skaneateles is a plan to freeze property taxes for residents of towns who keep spending below a 2 percent tax cap for two years and reduce spending over a five-year period. The residents of these towns will then receive a rebate from the state on their taxes.
Shrinking municipal spending is one of the state’s long term goals, DeSito said.
“The governor really wants to encourage either the consolidation or shared services between counties and school districts,” she said.
Town Councilor Nancy Murray said that the town of Skaneateles has been able to keep its budget increases under the cap for the past two years, though it is a difficult proposition.
The budget proposal includes millions for capital improvements to public access, parks and the environment. Included in this is $2.5 million for rehabilitation at the state fairgrounds in Solvay, a fishing access project in nearby Sempronius and a brownfield cleanup program.
More information on the proposed executive budget can be found on governor.ny.gov.
Joe Genco is the editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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