State legislators comment on new budget

PeteDz Photography/via flickr
April 2, 2014

Governor Cuomo’s new state budget is full of controversial measures and new spending that will impact the region. 

One of the most talked about issues before the budget negotiations were the Common Core education standards.

Tompkins County Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, who is on the Education Committee, had been working on a bill to delay standardized testing associated with the Common Core.

“We took most of the elements of that bill and put it in the budget to relieve the pressure on the kids and not have these scores affect students,” says Lifton. 

The use of the test scores to evaluate students has been delayed statewide for grades three through eight. But Lifton says the legislature still needs to address how teachers are being evaluated.

“To me and to most people, it doesn’t make sure sense to say that the tests aren’t appropriate for kids, they’re not working for the kids but we’re going to use them to evaluate teachers," says Lifton. "That’s sort of a non-sequitor in my mind.”

Another controversial issue in the budget was Governor Cuomo’s plan to freeze property taxes at a 2% increase. As part of the plan, property owners could get a rebate on their taxes if their local governments consolidate services.

Lifton says that spread thin the already small spending abilities of local governments.

“I’m concerned about my counties and my school districts. And thanks, but keep your hundred-dollar check. Here, for most of my district, it’d probably be about that much for people," says Lifton. "I want my schools and counties to have the resources they need and not be under this pressure.”

Lifton says, if the Governor really wants to reduce property taxes, he should provide more funding for school from the state level and cover more of the cost of Medicaid.

The budget also included 10 million dollars for a pharmacy school at Binghamton University.  Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo says the budgeted money is for the planning phase and finding a site.

“As that is going, SUNY will work with Binghamton University to certify the pharmacy school and then we’ll have to find an additional sum of money to build the  actual building," says Lupardo. "So we’re in it for a good two or three years anyways.”

And after a particularly harsh winter, an extra $40 million was added to the budget to deal with the mess of potholes across the state.