Following campaign events in Warren and Jefferson counties, New York's attorney general stopped at the adult center in Saranac Lake, where he vowed to change the political atmosphere in Albany. Chris Morris was there.
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With his three daughters and a niece sitting in the audience, the Democrat stressed that his primary goal as governor is to leave a better New York for the next generation. "Job one is to leave this place better than we found it--that's what it's all about. And that's why it's so fitting to have [my daughters and niece] with me on this trip--because it's all about them."
Cuomo says cleaning up Albany is the first step to making government work. "The word 'work' is an interesting word. It suggests they're performing a function, that they are doing something. Make the government work! This government isn't working. It's not balancing budget, it's not passing laws, it's not managing, it's not planning," he said.
Cuomo has hammered New York state for harboring too many levels of government. In Saranac Lake alone, taxpayers grapple with three towns, two counties and one village. Cuomo says that as governor he'll give citizens, not just elected officials, the ability to consolidate government. "Because if you leave it just to the local governments, they're not going to want to consolidate because by definition it could diminish their power. So it really has to be a citizen-driven movement, said Cuomo. "I don't believe the state should be telling local communities what to do, but I think the state should be in a position to give local communities power to do what they actually want to do."
The North Country faced a rude awakening earlier this year when Governor David Paterson and legislators proposed several prison closures and significant budget reductions at state agencies like the Olympic Regional Development Authority and the Department of Environmental Conservation. Cuomo wants to slash state agencies across the board but he says he understands the delicate balance between private and public sector employment in northern New York. "There have to be economies of scale. You have 1000 state agencies--you have to be able to manage the process better. So we're still doing what we need to do and providing the services we need to provide, but we're more efficient and more effective in the way we produce them. I understand that in many parts of upstate New York you have entire communities that are dependent upon state facilities and obviously that's a priority," the attorney general said.
Cuomo says he'd bring that same balanced approach to his management of the Adirondack Park Agency. "You want to preserve, you want to protect, but people have to live their lives, we need to do business, we need to have jobs. So you have to make sure you have the right balance--not just in concept but in practicality."
Due to ongoing investigations by the attorney general's office into land deals inside the park, Cuomo declined to answer questions on future state land acquisitions in the Adirondacks.