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State representatives speak about upcoming budget process at annual Legislative Breakfast in Little Falls

By GARY LIBERATORE

LITTLE FALLS, N.Y. (WKTV) - At the 7th annual Herkimer County Chamber of Commerce Legislative Breakfast Friday morning, State Senator James Seward of Oneonta and Assemblyman Marc Butler of Newport, who are both republicans, both applauded the work of democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, and how he helped change the political climate in Albany since he took office at the beginning of 2011.

The two legislators told the crowd of about 300 Herkimer County business leaders that both the Senate and Assembly were able to get together and get a lot accomplished over the past year, and they say they hope to get even more done this year.

Both houses are expected to pass their own versions of the 2012-2013 state budget next week when they return to Albany and that's when the work begins on compromising between the two versions, to come up with one that will benefit all New Yorkers.

One of the big topics of discussion at this year's Legislative Breakfast was mandate relief, and the question of how does the state take the burden of paying for state mandated programs like Medicaid, off the backs of the local taxpayers.

Assemblyman Butler says legislators are looking at ways to do that. He talked about one option.

"A phased takeover by the state of Medicaid costs, which is somewhere between 7 and 8 million dollars. That would be over a 7 or 8 year period, and the thought would be by putting that cost on the state, it would be paid through income tax, and the other forms of revenue collection that the state has, rather than the property tax," said Assemblyman Butler. "So again, you're getting into the philosophy - make the rich pay more, the whole debate that's going on in our nation right now."

Another big topic was school aid.

Senator Seward told the crowd he wants to see more of the state school aid go to the school districts that need it the most, and he says legislators are looking at a fairer way of distribution.

"In our proposed budget, more education money will be directed to upstate low wealth, high needs school districts, which describe the school districts in Herkimer County and our region," Senator Seward said.

Seward also talked about doing more for small businesses in this year's budget, including tax incentives for creating jobs.

He broke down the three incentives.

"$5,000 tax credit for a new hire under our plan. $8,000 if you hire someone off the unemployment roll, and a $10,000 tax credit for any business that hires a veteran returning from military duty," Seward said.

The State Budget is due April 1.

You may recall, a budget was passed on time last year for the first time in five years, and both Seward and Butler are hoping to make it two in a row.

Also onhand Friday morning was Congressman Richard Hanna who represents Herkimer County in Washington.

Just like Seward and Butler, Hanna emphasized how important it is for Republicans and Democrats to get along and work together for what's best for the people of this country.

Hanna said we have gotten through some tough times in this country in the past, and he says we will get through these difficult times we're facing now.

He says tough decisions will keep having to be made, not only at the Federal level, but all levels of government. He told the crowd, "be prepared to do something that we're not used to doing in this country - and that is sacrifice."

He says politicians at all levels need to say 'no' more often.

"No is a tough thing," Hanna said. "Especially when you're a politician in political office, but encourage that kind of bravery in everybody you talk to at every level of government."

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