Area legislators said Tuesday that Gov. Andrew Cuomo's approach just might work to end perennial stalemates that drag down the state budget process.
"He wasn't confrontational," said state Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, in a telephone interview after Cuomo's budget presentation in Albany.
"I think he actually offered the Legislature the chance to become involved and collaborate with him on the specifics of reaching these goals," she said.
Cuomo, continuing a theme from his State of the Speech last month, said Tuesday he is setting percentage targets for reducing spending, but is asking legislators and affected parties to recommend specific ways to accomplish those goals.
That's a different approach than the traditional way in which a governor would outline specific spending cuts in his budget presentation, then negotiate the details with the Legislature.
"The verbal messages were the same (as previous governors) in many respects. ... The difference I would see is that at least on the macro level when Cuomo spoke to cuts, he talked about what appears to be real reductions," said Assemblyman Tony Jordan, R-Jackson.
Little said there was already evidence of a conciliatory mood as legislators commented to one another directly after Cuomo's speech.
"We're hearing people say, ‘Well, you know it's not as bad as I thought.' Sometimes that helps, too," she said.
Little said there obviously will be difficult decisions in every facet of state government -- from schools and health care to local government and state operations, but cuts can be manageable.
"It's not a huge reduction," she said.
On the health care front, local government officials, industry experts and residents will have a chance to offer suggestions about ways to reduce costs when the governor's Medicaid redesign team holds a public hearing from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday at Adirondack Community College in Queensbury, she said.
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Health care executives recognize the state's fiscal crisis, but hope the governor recognized that change will take time, said Dr. John Rugge, chief executive officer of Hudson Headwaters Health Network.
"Clearly, there's got to be major system reform," Rugge said. "My current metaphor is we tried it with incentives, and now, given the budget crisis and the fact we've not made all that much progress, the governor is going after it with a chain saw."
For county government, many aspects of the budget look promising, but others raise concern, said Warren County Administrator Paul Dusek.
Dusek said he has concerns about what appears to be cost shifting of some public assistance and public health programs from the state to the county.
Little said she was most impressed with Cuomo's economic development proposal that centers around forming regional economic councils.
"Overall, the budget sets the stage for this region to work our way to the front of the class and be competitive," said Glens Falls Economic/Community Development Director Edward Bartholomew.
Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Glenville, said overall he was pleased with the Cuomo's budget presentation, but he is concerned about a proposed 2.75 percent surcharge on the horse racing industry.
A surcharge, in his mind, is a form of taxation, and Cuomo pledged not to increase taxes, Tedisco said.
Tedisco said he also is concerned with the proposed elimination of video lottery revenues for Saratoga Springs.
Go to the All Politics is Local blog on poststar.com to read more local reaction to the governor's budget presentation.