CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. Assembly member Robert Castelli met with the New Castle Town Board on Tuesday night to share the highlights of the 2012-13 New York state budget that was signed into law April 5 .
"Frequently people do not realize what has been passed by us in Albany," said Castelli, R-Goldens Bridge. "I think its incumbent upon us to make sure everyone knows how much moneys been spent and how much has been spent, so we can see whether or not the wishes and desires of the people in our municipalities have been answered."
Surprising about the budget, even to Castelli, is that it was delivered on time. Castelli said he also was encouraged by the state's reduction in spending, which is down $135 million to a total budget of $132.6 billion.
"This year we managed to close an additional $2 million deficit, also without any new taxes, any layoffs and any backdoor borrowing," Castelli said.
Castelli said the budget focused on providing mandate relief for local municipalities. He said that is especially crucial following the 2 percent tax levy cap that went into effect in 2011.
"We knew that when it passed that we had to have substantive mandate relief," Castelli said. The highlight of long-term mandate relief is the Tier VI pension reform, which he said would save New York $60 billion to $80 billion over the next 30 years.
Another highlight includes an amendment to the state Constitution that will change the redistricting process.
"This year the redistricting was done, it was not truly independent, and true to my word I voted against it," Castelli said. "While it is not as truly independent and I would like or you would have liked, it is a step in the right direction."
Constitutional amendments will be voted on by the public in the November election. Another proposed constitutional amendment is to allow an additional seven casinos in New York state.
This will be seven additional sites. They will compete for the locations," Castelli said. "Where they may be located is anybodys guess at this point."
Castelli said the additional casinos would allow New York to compete with New Jersey and Connecticut for tourism dollars.
A final proposed constitutional amendment is the implementation of a DNA databank bill, so that anyone convicted of a felony or penal law misdemeanor would have to provide a sample for the state's DNA databank.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.