Duffy discusses state budget with local leaders

According to Duffy, bringing education spending in line could be completed in five processes: a strategic use of reserve funding, a reduction in administrator compensation, wage freezes for management and teachers, increasing contributions of education employees toward healthcare plans and consolidating or sharing services.

"This is about trying to fund changes in districts, looking at efficiencies, ways to have consolidations and changes that would save money and not impact students," he said, adding the cuts should result in "no layoffs."

The amount of overspending in Albany for education has also been in vain, said Duffy, with much of the money budgeted getting "lost in the administration quagmire."

"We're number one in spending for education but number 34 in results," he said. "We should be number one in results."

Duffy said the money budgeted for education gets caught up in high administrative salaries, healthcare costs and other overhead he calls "built-in accelerators, with the money getting "spent away from what impacts kids."

"That's why we're 50th in business, 34th in education, 21st in healthcare results," Duffy said of the state's track record for government spending. "It's not aiding the graduation rates or success rates for our kids. It's not aiding better patient healthcare. It's going to overhead ... It's not going to the intended purposes."

Reining in government spending, in addition to budgeting wiser in future years, will mean the difference between the road to ruin and the road to recovery, said Duffy.

"We have to change. We have to put the stake in the ground and start somewhere," he said. "And, I believe this budget is the beginning of that."

The governor's plan drew praise from local leaders like Sylvie D. Nelson, executive director of the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.

"I think the lieutenant governor presented something that really made a lot of sense," said Nelson, who praised Duffy and Cuomo for their emphasis on getting various government agencies to collaborate during the budget-reduction process. "It makes much more sense because you'll have all the players talking to each other, which, at this point, is not occurring."

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