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State leaders discuss federal stimulus package, economy

PLATTSBURGH - Though headlines of doom and gloom have dominated the media, lawmakers are urging people to be cautiously optimistic about the future of the state and the nation.

During the annual New York State Legislative Forum breakfast hosted by the Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce Feb. 27, the region's three top state representatives discussed President Barack Obama's recently-approved federal stimulus package.

State Sen. Elizabeth O'C. Little, R-Queensbury, and Assemblywomen Janet L. Duprey, R-Peru, and Teresa R. Sayward, R-Willsboro, each weighed in on the pros and cons of the stimulus package, urging people to take caution when hearing of all the money the state is slated to receive from the federal government.

According to Little, the state is to receive $24.6 billion over the next two years, which is what she characterized as "probably the biggest one-two shot in the history of the state."

There will be an increase in funding for Medicaid, education, infrastructure and many other areas, said the senator. However, she and the assemblywomen urged taxpayers not to believe the funding will end the state's fiscal troubles.

"We have to be very smart about how we use this money," said Little. "We want an economic benefit from all the projects we do."

The stimulus package will "fill in some holes" in Gov. David A. Paterson's proposed state budget, said Sayward. However, the assemblywoman said she feels the federal funding will cloud the issue that budget cuts still need to be made at the state level.

"I'm really not encouraged that we're going to be making the necessary cuts we need to make," she said. "There's never a better time in the world to get back to the basics than when you don't have enough money ... That's what we need to do in New York State and that's what we'll be advocating for this year."

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