Following New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address, leaders in the Capital/Saratoga region are offering their thoughts on what they’d like to see in 2014.
The Governor’s State of the State speech focused on a variety of topics, from education, economic development, tourism, and infrastructure.
But it was the governor’s focus on reducing spending and reduction of property taxes that caught Schenectady and Saratoga County Republican Assemblyman James Tedisco’s ear.
"He is actually talking about not only about capping spending, but spending priorities, and that was I think music for the taxpayers' ears," said Tedisco.
Tedisco said he is hopeful for a freeze on property taxes and a reduction of taxes on manufacturing.
"Freezing property taxes in the future, seriously reducing property taxes for the highest property-taxed people in the United States of America, and to help this economy and make it competitive he's going to help - and we hope we will help him - bring back manufacturing to upstate New York," said Tedisco.
Republican Senator Kathy Marchione of Halfmoon said she supported the Governor’s proposal to lower the corporate tax rate to 6.5 percent and incentivize upstate manufacturing.
Marchione serves as Chair of the Senate’s Administrative Regulations Review Commission, which last summer held hearings across the state on ways to reduce red tape. Marchione said she was glad the governor called for a reduction in restrictive regulations.
"Our report is almost done, and it identifies over 2,000 regulations that we believe can be eliminated or ammended or at least reviewd," said Marchione. "When he talked about regulations, I think that's terriffic. I know he's forming a commission - a bipartisan commission - we got a lot of that work done, so I hope that gets fast-tracked."
Paul Sausville, Chair of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors, said upstate communities need more relief from unfunded mandates.
"There's not a lot the governor can do for us except reduce those unfunded mandates," said Sausville.
The governor spent some time in his speech on workforce training and education initiatives, including a plan provide full tuition scholarships to the top 10 percent of high school graduates to SUNY and CUNY colleges and universities if they pursue a STEM career and work in New York for five years.
Republican Assemblyman Dan Stec of Queensbury said that the manufacturing economy of upstate New York needs young workers.
"Manufacturers have been concerned about a highly-trained workforce with their needs in mind, so I think that it's not uncommon for states or employers to incenvitize certain degree programs, or certain training programs to bolster a workforce," said Stec. "I though that was good, certainly we'll have to look at the numbers and make sure the math works and we can afford everything that's on the table."
Lawmakers stressed they’d like to see more attention on improving the implementation of the Common Core, which was not mentioned in the governor’s speech.
Tedisco also wants to see a decision released in the new year on hydraulic fracturing for the extraction of natural gas, which he supports. Fracking is still being reviewed in a health impact study by the DEC.
"I'd like to see the science and I'd like to see the Commissioner make the report, and urge him to do that," said Tedisco.
While supporters say fracking could lower energy costs, the practice remains highly controversial in New York, with opponents fearing harm to the natural environment.