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Sen. Little, local Republicans discuss state issues

CHAMPLAIN In the whirlwind of political scandal that surrounded New Yorks former governor, its surprising to some political leaders this years state budget was passed relatively close to its April 1 deadline, including state Sen. Elizabeth OC. Little, R-Queensbury. Little was the keynote speaker at a spaghetti dinner hosted by the Town of Champlain Republican Committee April 11. The senator focused on the recent passage of the state budget in the wake of former Gov. Eliot L. Spitzers resignation amid rumors of his soliciting services from a high-profile prostitution ring. The senator, who has served the last six years in Albany, said this year has already been an interesting year in the state capital. I said to someone, If you wrote this book, no one would believe you, Little recalled. To have our state actually be the joke of the whole country and the topic of late night shows was really disservicing ... Its going to take time for us to recoup in Albany and get the respect back that we hope we will be able to get. Little applauded Gov. David A. Paterson for his ability to make some tough decisions with the state budget after being unexpectedly thrust into the gubernatorial spotlight weeks before the budget was due. The fact that [the state budget] was only nine days late was remarkable, with what happened, said Little. Property taxes remained the number one issue within the state, the senator said, and one of the main focal points the budget aimed to keep down again this year. We are losing population and property tax is the reason, she said. The senate fought to maintain the way public assistance is evenly distributed at the state and county levels, something the senator said was initially projected to shift more of the burden on the county, and thereby mean a potential increase in property taxes. Ultimately, the approved state budget resulted in an increase funding for local government assistance, Consolidated Highway Improvements Program allocations, and for institutions of higher learning such as Clinton Community College. Four prisons which were initially facing closure under the budget Camp Gabriels in Brighton, Camp Pharsalia in Sherburne, Camp McGregor in Wilton, and the Hudson Correctional Facility though funding was ultimately restored in the budgets eleventh hour. This year, we had some things we had to fight for and we could have either rolled over and accept everything or we could fight for those things, Little said. One fight that was lost, however, was against $50 million in funding cuts for the pharmaceutical industry, said Little. Pharmacists were essentially killed, said the senator, who empathized with concerns raised by those in the pharmaceutical field. It is a tough year and it is a tough budget. Theres always talk about if the numbers will hold, Little said. Were just hoping the revenues come in. Among the funding that did remain in place was a $1 million economic development appropriation for Akrimax Pharmaceuticals, the firm which acquired the Wyeth Pharmaceuticals manufacturing facility in Rouses Point, which was facing closure until the acquisition was announced earlier this year. When the village of Rouses Point was facing the potential loss of 1,200 jobs, Barie said, referring to the former Wyeth Pharmaceuticals closure, it was our state senator that came back from Albany with a million dollars that made all the difference. Never in the history of the North Country, have so many owed so much to a single elected official, Barie added.

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