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DEC's Martens gives budget address in Lake Placid

Joe Martens speaks to those assembled at the Conference Center in Lake Placid Feb. 1. Martens spoke about the 2012 executive budget proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Joe Martens speaks to those assembled at the Conference Center in Lake Placid Feb. 1. Martens spoke about the 2012 executive budget proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Photo by Alan Belford

— “Once again the governor is insisting that we reign in these costs,” he said.

Martens next touched upon “mandate relief,” the governor’s term for helping counties pay for mandated state programs. For instance, while the amount counties have to pay on Medicaid growth was capped at 3-percent in 2008, the state will eventually take over the cost for all growth to Medicaid by 2015-2016. In addition, Martens noted that pension reform is needed to help alleviate a growing burden on local governments, saying, “private companies have had to do this; the government needs to do so as well.”

Finally, Martens cited education reform, asserting that New York State is first in spending on education, but 38th in graduation rates. For instance, Martens stated that despite being awarded $700 million in 2010 from the Federal Government’s Race to the Top Program, the state still does not have a single teacher evaluation system in any of its 758 school districts, running the risk of losing the awarded funds. Blaming a bureaucratic system that must be changed.

“We must focus on the student, and respect the taxpayer at the same time.”

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