WNY Co 4 Pro Statement on Budget Crisis

The Western New York Coalition for Progress is a nonpartisan organization of hundreds of western New Yorkers dedicated to making our community and America a better place to live, work and raise a family. We are bound together by a common commitment to progressive values and we aspire to ensure that our national and local policies reflect these values. As such, the members of the Coalition are extremely concerned about the present fiscal crisis facing Erie County and its impact on all of Western New York. While there are many factors for Erie County’s current financial deterioration, we believe the time has come for our elected officials to stop working behind the scenes in separate factions and instead come together to finalize a budget for 2005 that is responsive to the needs of the community. It is also incumbent upon our government to immediately address what will allegedly be a worse situation for 2006. We choose to live in WNY because it is a culturally diverse, yet interconnected, community. To live here is to appreciate an unparalleled quality of life that is both the bedrock and allure of WNY. While we support the creation of a more efficient county workforce, we call for shared sacrifice among county departments through responsible leadership. We cannot support the county executive’s proposed slash and burn budget that cuts at the heart of the cultural and civic institutions that are the lifeblood of our community. We call for an open process to resolve this dilemma – an open-minded approach based on open-door discussions between the county executive, legislature, labor unions and the citizens of Erie County. Let’s abandon color-coded budgets and put all services and issues on the table. It is crucial that all parties candidly work together to fashion a budget that controls unnecessary spending and waste, but does not resolve this crisis solely on the backs of the county’s citizens and workers. As a first course of action towards creating a better county we urge our elected leaders from both sides of the political aisle to ask the New York State Comptroller’s Office to perform an audit of Erie County’s finances to reveal the true picture of the County’s financial status. Only through an examination by an independent source can we genuinely know the difficult fiscal path that we face for the coming years. The WNY Coalition for Progress intends to be a part of this process. Members of our Healthcare and Social Security Working Group are examining New York’s Medicaid mandates, and intends to offer viable solutions or alternatives to this key program that impacts all local counties. While we work to address the issues that face western New York, we will not stand idly by and permit our legislators to shut Erie County down solely because they refuse to consider any new means of raising capital, just as we reject those who believe the only way out of this predicament is to raise taxes. Likewise, we will not tolerate our county executive’s cynical, punitive, and arbitrary shutdown of county parks and services. We will hold our local elected representatives accountable for their actions, or inactions, if they fail to fulfill the task we sent them to office to accomplish – to lead. We know that no silver bullet or magic elixir exists to resolve Erie County’s fiscal condition. But only by working together, with open minds and towards a united goal of retaining our quality of life in western New York, will our community move forward. That is why we call on all parties, including the citizens of this community, to complete the budgetary process in an expedited, yet fiscally sound, manner by working together to make Erie County and Western New York a better place to call home.

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