POUGHKEEPSIE — CSEA leaders recently joined with state and county lawmakers to express serious concerns with the controversial local government plan Gov. Andrew Cuomo included in his proposed state budget, a proposal that came along with a threat to withhold crucial state aid to local municipalities if lawmakers reject the governor’s plan.
Under the governor’s plan, New Yorkers will lose the chance to determine the services their local municipalities provide. Counties would be required to present plans for shared services and consolidations to voters countywide this November, a ballot measure that would allow voters to determine local government services for individual municipalities even if they live elsewhere in the county.
CSEA Southern Region President Billy Riccaldo and Dutchess County Local President Liz Piraino joined state Sen. Sue Serino and Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro for a news conference to highlight the plan’s flaws.
“This proposal spits in the face of home rule in New York state,” Riccaldo said. “Only residents should have a say in services provided by their local government. What our local governments truly need is the first increase in AIM (Aid and Incentive to Municipalities) funding in years, not more money wasted on an ill-conceived program.
The governor has threatened to withhold AIM funding if legislators don’t include the plan in the finalized state budget.
“As someone who has served in local government before being elected to the Senate, I know from firsthand experience that Dutchess County has gone above and beyond to improve efficiency, cut spending and share services to reduce costs,” Serino said. “I have seen just how hard our local governments work to squeeze blood from a stone to ensure that our taxpayers’ dollars go further, and for that they should be commended, not penalized.”
Molinaro pointed out different cost savings measures he’s implemented during his time as county executive, noting that local government entities across the state have found ways to reduce costs and share services where appropriate without a state mandate.
“We all must work to share services and lower the cost of living for New Yorkers,” Molinaro said. “We are willing to be a partner in this effort but not a scapegoat.”