Common Core Changes, Fiscal Responsibility Should Dominate 2014 Budget

A legislative column by Assemblyman Edward P. Ra (R-Franklin Square)
January 23, 2014

In his Executive Budget proposal for 2014-2015, Gov. Cuomo has outlined an ambitious agenda. While I have many questions about how we can provide meaningful tax and mandate relief, I look forward to reading further into the details laid out today.

Iím pleased to see the governor finally address Common Core. When his joint legislative body looks into remedying this issue, I hope they take into consideration the work done by myself and my colleagues from our series of 11 hearings across the entire state. We worked directly with the parents and education professionals that are responsible for our childrenís education and their input must be considered when revamping our education system.

The governor has stated there is a $2 billion surplus heading into the new fiscal year. Though Gov. Cuomo has plans for this surplus, I feel this funding would be best used in one of two ways: closing the Gap Elimination Adjustment that has leveled our schoolsí budgets (allowing them to better adjust to new initiatives like Common Core, teacher evaluations and new testing) or through real tax and mandate relief.

The governorís property-tax freeze and suggestion of a circuit breaker would certainly be a positive first step this year in providing our overburdened Nassau County homeowners with some financial breathing room, but more needs to be done to provide long-term relief. This year is the opportune time to stop paying lip service to mandate relief and make it a reality, as it is the key to true savings for our local governments.

Iím disappointed to see the governorís solution to the current ethics scandals in the Capitol. Taxpayer-funded political campaigns are not real reform and will only serve to exacerbate corruption. My colleagues and I in the Assembly Minority have put forth the Public Officers Accountability Act, a comprehensive ethics reform package, which would go a long way toward cleaning up our political system.

As we discuss the proposed budget, it will remain a priority to ensure we enact an on-time, fiscally responsible budget for the fourth consecutive year. I look forward to working with Governor Cuomo and my legislative colleagues to make sure this happens.