Dutchess budget turns into political finger-pointing

POUGHKEEPSIE – Dutchess County Legislative Assembly Speaker Gregg Pulver and County Executive Marc Molinaro criticize Democratic lawmakers for low attendance at recent budget meetings. The reprimand is in response to remarks made by Minority Leader Rebecca Edwards (D-Poughkeepsie).

At a recent meeting of the legislature’s Budget, Finance and Staff Committee, Edwards accused that “this legislature is doing next to nothing. The committee met several times this month to propose amendments to Molinaro’s provisional budget that they received on November 4. They are due to meet again on November 29, ahead of the 7 p.m. public hearing on the amended budget.

“We are absolutely disappointed to hear the remarks from Lawmaker Edward and suggest that the Democratic caucus start doing its job and showing up,” Pulver said.

Edwards disputed Pulver’s claim. The Minority Leader noted that she was on doctor’s orders to quarantine herself on the morning of November 4 and that Pulver would not allow Edwards to participate remotely. Budget committee meetings were scheduled for 4 p.m. and Edwards said she informed Pulver members were unable to attend due to work commitments. As I discussed with the President, it is difficult for lawmakers in full-time jobs to attend meetings that start before 5:30 p.m., and a review of the video will show that many lawmakers from both caucuses were not present. , argued Edwards.

There are five GOP lawmakers and two Democrats on the committee. In addition, Majority Leader Donna Bolner, GOP Whip John Metzger, Minority Leader Edwards and Minority Whip Nick Page, as well as Chairman Pulver are on the committee.

Pulver, expressing his displeasure with the Democratic caucus, called the budget review process “one of the most important aspects of a legislator,” while noting that the Democratic caucus has maintained a rate 43% participation during the 11 meetings. At one meeting, according to Pulver, no Democrats were in attendance while Republicans were fully present at the same meeting.

The Molinaro County executive, which presented its 2022 draft budget earlier this month that contains a ten percent property tax cut, weighed on the lack of Democrats attending meetings. “Our residents need a very efficient and functional county government. There are people who need help, want better roads and better parks, and deserve to have their taxes lowered, ”he said.

Edwards said attendance requests aren’t the most pressing issue. “The much more important question, in my opinion, is whether the Republican majority is exercising adequate oversight of the budget increase, the sharp expansion of future debt or spending on capital projects, some of which have been marked. through mismanagement and cost overruns. “

The budget proposed by Molinaro and examined by the Budget Committee includes the following elements:

  • Investing $ 24 million in the capital plan and operating budget for essential maintenance of county roads and bridges, including snow removal on 9,000 miles of local roads;
  • $ 21.3 million investment in Dutchess Community College, including “Think Ahead” program and new aviation management, maintenance, airframe and powertrain technician programs;
  • Increase of $ 5.3 million to the Ministry of Behavioral and Community Health, compared to the budget adopted in 2021;
  • $ 3.9 million in family violence prevention services;
  • $ 3.5 million in funding for the agency’s partner grant program, including the aforementioned $ 500,000 Learn, play, create: Support our childrenexpansion;
  • $ 1 million for a new fire and rescue grant opportunity for first responders;
  • $ 100,000 to build critical home health care system capacity to address the shortage of home health workers;
  • A pilot program to provide seniors with the safe and easy disposal of prescription drugs at home;
  • Ongoing investment in Dutchess County parks, including increased park maintenance resources to keep up with rapid growth;
  • 80 percent increase in funding for adult child care centers;
  • 34 percent increase in funding for the arts, including sensory, capital and capacity sensitive events, and arts education; and
  • 10 percent increase in tourism funding.

Budget documents are available online at dutchessny.gov/2022budget.

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