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Lt. Gov. Duffy In Utica To Promote Cuomo’s Budget

Jeanette Lenoir, WIBX

Utica, NY (WIBX) - Lt. Governor Robert Duffy is in Utica to promote Governor Cuomo’s 2012-2013 budget proposal. Flanked by local lawmakers, Duffy says the budget represents change and shows that the state is moving in the right direction.

Some of the proposals being tauted include the state take over of the growth of Medicaid over the next three years, the Tier 6 Pension Plan, education reform, and the restructuring of some government agencies like the Department of Transportation. “11 million dollars of savings for Oneida County, that’s to make a big difference, and that is to be the first step as the governor is trying to turn this state around,” Duffy said.

Addressing the Tier 6 Pension Plan proposal, Duffy said, “The pension reform and tier that the governor’s proposed, Tier 6, will safe Oneida County $700 million dollars over the next 30 years. That’s almost three-quarters of a billion dollars over 30 years, saves this county in pension costs.” He says Tier 6 will only affect new employees.

When asked how the state will pay for it all, Duffy says state leaders are still working on that issue and suspected that it will be paid for with “savings”, “revenues” and ” new business growth.” The budget has to be approved by lawmakers in Albany before any of these new proposals can take effect. Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente says some of the proposals are significant steps in the right direction. He says once the county sees the savings, he may go back to address the new MVCC funding structure that was part of  his recent budget. Some local lawmakers criticized it as a future tax for some residents.

Picente said,  ”The MVCC charge back is just the method of which it’s collected. The money doesn’t change, it’s not a new tax or it’s not a new piece in terms of what is being collected for the college, it’s  the mechanism in which it’s done that allows us to charge back to the municipalities and have an influx at the end of the year for our budget that can be a cost savings as we prepare our budgets, whether then put it on the tax levy the way it has been.”

He says what can be done is if the county gets significant relief, the MVCC funding structure will either stay at the 50-percent level where it’s at now, or it could go away. “We’ll have to wait and see though, it’s going to take some time and we have to see how this year, how last year ended up for us in 2011, and how this year goes forward and whether that will be address, because it’s not scheduled to take place until 2013,” he said. Picente says mandate relief and reform is another major issue that still needs to be addressed on the state and local levels.

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