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Cuomo Signs Ceremonial Budget At UC, Highlights Accomplishments

Jeanette Lenoir, WIBX

Utica, NY (WIBX) - Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a ceremonial budget at Utica College this afternoon, highlighting some of what he calls “reform plans” to improve the state’s economy. “The State of New York had serious problems, almost on every level. The economy was in trouble as it was nationwide, but it was worse here in New York State. The housing market had collapsed as we know, it was a sense of desperation in the economy, he said.

Some of the items he says will fix the economy and improve the lives of average citizens are the New York Works Program that establishes nearly $15 billion of investment money to improve the state’s aging infrastructure and create jobs, Transit Aid for the Mohawk Valley, which increases funding for the Central New York Regional Transportation Authority by the tune of $28.48 million, the Casino Gaming proposal that calls for amending the state constitution to allow casino gaming in New York, as well as, challenge grants for the SUNY school system.

Cuomo also touched on the Utica City School District’s funding problem. He says although he’s not able to comment on the on-going lawsuit against the state, he did say, “It’s not just about more money, you know, in New York government the answer is always more money, more money, more money, just take more money from the tax payers. When it comes to public education the answer isn’t as simple as more money. Because we’re spending more money than anyone and we’re not getting the results, so lets find out why we’re not getting the results and let start to evaluate the performance of our teachers and our schools.”

Last week the school board voted to cut 200 jobs and nearly half of them are teaching jobs. School Superintendent, Bruce Karam says the district is in financial trouble because of the lack of adequate funding from the state and urged state lawmakers to change the current aid formula. Cuomo said, “I didn’t want to raise taxes any higher, I thought it would make the situation worse, but this year, when we can invest in the schools, we’ll be increasing state-wide, aid to education by about 4-percent, which in this economy is a big deal.” Also, Cuomo says the aid formula is looked at every year, “Basically there’s a new negotiation on the aid formula that tries to take that year’s particular consideration into concern,” he said.

Senator Joseph Griffo says it’s significant that the governor signed a mock budget in Utica. “Because there are a lot of projects that will benefit this area and I think most importantly, if you look at this as that we continue this commitment to a functioning government, where you have spending restraint, where you have no new taxes, where you have major investments in order to create a climate to grow jobs,” said.

Griffo added that the Utica N/S Arterial Viaduct project, which was placed on hold by the Cuomo administration, is back on track. Grifffo made an announcement on behalf of Cuomo that the project will immediately get $35 million for the first phase of construction. “And, then that there is a commitment to continue that for the complete phase of $62 million dollars. That project is no longer on hold, it begins to move with the first phase over the next two years,” he said.

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