Senator James Seward joined members of the Senate and Assembly on Monday to open joint legislative hearings on Governor Cuomo’s proposed $178 billion state budget.

Seward says there’s a great deal of work ahead, including closing a $6 billion budget gap without raising taxes or shifting costs to local governments. He says too many people are leaving the state and we need to address our affordability problem by increasing state spending and increasing economic opportunities.

As ranking Republican of the Senate Finance Committee, Seward has a lead role in the budget deliberations.

Lawmakers must pass a budget by April 1st.