When you are looking to do a job for everybody, you have to strip the politics away, says Darrel Aubertine.
“This administration has done a very good job doing that,” said the New York State Commissioner of the Agriculture and Markets.
Aubertine spoke at the North Country Chamber of Commerce in Plattsburgh on Jan. 20, delivering executive budget and reform plan messages.
Collaboration is key in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration, Aubertine said, and there is much more cooperation now.
“We are talking to each other.”
He said the governor pushed forward an executive budget that was just as much about reform.
“This budget is a fiscal plan that is balanced,” Aubertine said. “We cut middle class taxes to the lowest level it has been in 58 years.”
There are no gimmicks and no new taxes or fees.
“This year we will eliminate all automatic inflators,” Aubertine said.
Cuomo leaned on aid to localities to save more than $700 million, on top of $1.3 billion in savings through a flat increase to state agencies.
“The budget is manageable,” Aubertine said.
In terms of economic development, there are plans to improve 100 bridges, 2,000 miles of roads and finance upgrades to 90 municipal water systems for a $15 billion investment in infrastructure in New York state.
The new convention center will impact the entire state with a total $4 billion private investment and no state dollars.
Likewise, establishing energy highways will entail a $2 billion private investment and no state dollars.
Aubertine spoke of a constitutional amendment to legalize casino gambling.
“We already have gambling, but we aren’t using it to its fullest potential,” he said. “We need to be honest about the role gaming already plays in New York state.”
He spoke of addressing the foundation of government.
“A lot of it is about the way we do things,” he said. “We need to help government evolve.
“Every year there are more programs passed with no rhyme or reason. We must re-evaluate the way these agencies are working.”
Everybody wants mandate relief Aubertine said, but not everyone is stepping up to the plate.
Cuomo will reign in Medicaid and pension costs.
“Our primary mission is education,” Aubertine said.
Yet New York is number one in spending and 38 in graduation rates.
“We are trying to create a competitive grant based on performance,” Aubertine said.
He also pointed out that there is no teacher evaluation system in place and the state stands to lose $700 million in federal funding.
“We are serious and don’t have a choice,” Aubertine said. “Our students and taxpayers deserve no less.”
The state has made progress in the last year, he said, and is on a positive track. There are challenges, but Aubertine said New York is in a good place to meet them.
“We are looked at as being a model. We are looked at as being a success story. We will be successful.”