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Senator Griffo: state budget is "a step in the right direction"

By HILARY LANE

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - As Governor Andrew Cuomo paid a visit to the City of Utica on Monday to talk about infrastructure funding, local representatives focused on how the 2012 New York State Budget will impact residents in the Mohawk Valley.

Unfunded mandates like Medicaid and pensions costs and funding for public schools are the hot button issues and this year's budget does offer some relief.

Over 5 years, the Mohawk Valley will save $18 million as the state assumes the cost of medicaid growth.

When it comes to pension reform, retirement age will increase from 62 to 63 and employee contribution rates will be readjusted, saving local taxpayers $1.4 billion dollars over the next 5 years.

"I think it is a step in the right direction, because nothing was being done," said State Senator Joe Griffo. "So we are beginning to see some progress and there are some things being done to relieve the burden and costs associates with the mandates. We have a long road to go down and a lot to do."

When asked what is meant by "we have a lot to do," Griffo said he isn't sure of specifics yet, but is counting on the Mandate Relief Commission, which is currently traveling around the state to come up with some new recommendations.

Another big issue is struggling school districts in our area.

"We did increase education funding this year by 4%. We did take $200 million out of the executive grant proposal and we did put it back towards high needs district," said Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi. "It is still making up for the losses they have suffered over the last few years and that is why we need to look at the foundation formula and see if we can reform that."

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