Governor says little about North Country

Cuomo delivers state of the state address

— Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s state of the state address offered little for North Country residents.

The governor outlined a new economic development blueprint that invests billions of dollars in public-private sector partnerships and plans to rebuild infrastructure as a means of creating new jobs across the state during his hour-long speech Jan. 4, but did not present any initiatives specifically for the region.

Cuomo only mentioned the Adirondacks twice — once when announcing a second round of Regional Economic Development Awards and again when discussing the “New York’s Open for Business” tourism promotion effort.

A highlight of the speech for many local officials was a call for mandate relief. Noting the success of the 2-percent property tax cap passed by the state legislature last year, Cuomo said the next step is for the state to aid local governments by ending many costly mandates.

The governor said he will appoint a commission to hold hearings around the state and study mandate relief. He asked the commission to report to the state legislature in time for action before the end of 2012.

“We’ve been lobbying for mandate relief for a long time,” said Randy Douglas of Jay, chairman of the Essex County Board of Supervisors. “Medicaid alone costs $6-7 million in Essex County. Forty eight other states have taken Medicaid costs away from counties. It’s time for New York to do the same.”

Douglas, who attended the speech at the invitation of the governor, said he will ask the Cuomo to schedule a mandate relief commission meeting in Essex County.

“I believe the governor is listening to us,” Douglas said. “I have a good rapport with him and think he cares understands our concerns.”

State Sen. Betty Little was also pleased the governor is serious abut mandate relief.

“I expect to see a greater focus this year on mandate relief, she said. “There were a lot of ideas put on the table for discussion, but not much acted upon last session. Behind every mandate is a special interest and many of them are laudable. But some are not needed, or are unaffordable or simply not appropriate for all regions of the state. The tax cap has created an urgency to act and find agreement on relief measures that will provide our local governments and schools the flexibility they need.”

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