North Country officials anticipate Governor Hochul’s upcoming budget address
As New York Governor Kathy Hochul prepares to deliver her budget address, North Country officials are hopeful that initiatives meant to support rural development, housing and infrastructure will be a priority.
Governor Hochul delivered her State of the State address on January 10th outlining priorities such as housing affordability, health care and economic development.
Assemblyman D. Billy Jones, a fellow Democrat representing the 115th District, says that address usually forecasts the governor’s budget priorities.
“Housing was a big issue. Mental health. She did mention criminal justice reform and bail reform to make some improvements to those issues. At least since I’ve been here, and the former administration, policy has been put into the budget. I’ve always thought that the budget should be about fiduciary and actually doing the numbers. But there will be some policy in there. That’s what I’m expecting.”
The North Country Regional Economic Development Council is one of ten such entities across the state formed by Empire State Development to coordinate regional development efforts. Lake Placid-based Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism President Jim McKenna is the business co-chair of the North Country REDC. McKenna says he’s encouraged by programs that have had a direct impact on the region and he hopes they remain in the governor’s budget.
“One is the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. Looking within the Adirondack Park, we’ve seen Saranac Lake a $10 million commitment and their programs are moving forward now with DRI. We see Tupper Lake $10 million. And then just this week Ticonderoga with a $10 million DRI. The Downtown Revitalization Initiative has proved very important and very effective in not only revitalizing downtowns, but attracting private sector dollars along with it. So we’re looking hopefully that that’s going to be in there. All indications are that it is. The other one, the New York Forward program, is one geared for smaller communities. So we’re hoping the New York Forward program is in the budget as well.”
Clinton County Legislature Chair Mark Henry, a Republican, wants to see continued state support in what he refers to as “large” funding areas.
“We will be looking for continued funding for programs like economic development, housing, child care, our aging population here in Clinton County, that’s getting larger, mental health, public safety. We’ll be looking for those large areas. And within that we’ll be looking for the state to not mandate the counties to pay for these services, but for the state to fund these programs. If they think it’s a good idea for these program then our position would be that the state needs to fund them.”
As the budget address approaches, Assemblyman Jones quips that he has learned not to predict exactly what will be in speeches, budgets or bills.
“I’m interested to see what is in the budget document that the Governor puts forth. We’ll know soon after February 1st at noon. Looking forward to her budget address. But I always say this, when we get down to what’s in it in the fine print, we’ll know what we’re dealing with. But I’ll always be looking for what my constituents and my residents what can help them with their day-to-day lives here in the North Country.”
Governor Hochul is scheduled to deliver her budget address Wednesday at noon. WAMC will carry the speech live.