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Lawmakers Continue To Iron Out Final Budget Details

Senator Joseph Griffo
Jeanette Lenoir, WIBX

Utica, NY (WIBX) – “Reduce Spending, Avoid Taxes and Empower the Private Sector” … that’s how State Senator Joseph Griffo, (R-C-IP, Rome) described the foundation of the budget, lawmakers are currently building on. “And with the general concept agreement that was reached yesterday, will allow us to move forward now. I’m looking to a updated briefing to give me more specifics this afternoon, and  then we’ll review all the language that will be printed over the next 48-hours, Griffo said.”

Griffo says the current budget does not include the extension of the so-called “Millionaire’s tax” however, he added that the restoration of the more than $270 million in education money is a positive outcome from the negotiations. “With 68 to 70-percent of that money going upstate, and also we rejected some of the things he wanted to do that would negatively impact Boces, and also tried to help avoid cost shifts, so that there could also be savings for special education and summer school,” Griffo said.

The senator said the message from the start was that the $1.5 billion in education cuts, was going to disproportionately affect rural districts. He said, “But we also believed that we had to make those restoration through reprioritization of other spending areas, and I think that’s what we have seen now. There was an avoidance of any new taxes but there was an availability, an opportunity to restore some of that money — almost between $250 to $270 million — to education, with 68 to 70-percent of that money going upstate.”

Griffo says there will be a lot of late nights and printing going on to meet the April 1st deadline. “In fact, I just left a conference committee, where we discussed the regional economic development council that the governor recommended. These are the kinds of thing we’re trying to iron out now, even though we have agreements in concept, we want to look at the details and the mechanism, as to how those concepts will work,” Griffo said.

On the issue of the “Millionaire’s Tax” Griffo says it is not included in any of the agreements announced thus far. “The governor has been adamant, and I think it goes back to the original premise that New York is over taxed, and we want to reestablish the reputation of the state, as a state that is inviting to business,” Griffo said. He added that the way to do that is to lower taxes, reduce regulations and mandates and lower utility costs in order to be more competitive.

He says the wealthy constituents calling for Cuomo to reinstate the surcharge, Griffo said, “Those who feel that they have the means to contribute still have that opportunity, and I would strongly suggest that they make sizable donations to foundations, and they can be very helpful that way. But, I think overall, the governor’s approach has been, and many of us agree, that at this point in time, no tax is a good tax because  it’s a bad signal, if you’re trying to make New York compete again across the nation.”

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