Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Senate sparring over ORDA continues, even if Assembly wants it funded

Senator Betty Little sent this letter to the Senate Democratic Conference today blasting them for proposing to zero ORDA's funding:

March 24, 2010

Senator John L. Sampson
Senate Democratic Conference Leader
409 Legislative Office Building
Albany, New York 12247

Dear Senator Sampson:

The Senate Democratic Conference one-house budget resolution’s elimination of the Olympic Regional Development Authority’s (ORDA) $6.6 million state appropriation has sent shock waves throughout the Adirondacks.

It is hard to believe such an ill-conceived proposal could make it into a budget resolution that is being described as a “road map” for the enacted state budget due April 1. A change of direction on this so-called budget road map is desperately needed now.

Without question, eliminating ORDA’s funding would economically devastate the North Country. Doing so would crush much of our tourism industry, upon which we rely very heavily. Hotels and motels would close. Restaurants and shops would close. Families would leave. I have no doubt the ripple effect would extend far and wide.

Not only would this cut impact the region, the effect would be felt statewide. ORDA and the Winter Olympic venues attract tens of thousands of visitors from throughout the world on a year-round basis, economic activity that not only benefits the region but generates hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue for New York State.

I can only imagine that the inclusion of this proposal was the result of an uninformed staff member who has no understanding of ORDA and its vital importance. I sincerely hope that no senator would think it is a good idea to cut $6.6 million in state funding that would result in the loss of thousands of jobs and hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue.

Our nation just celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the unforgettable and inspirational “Miracle on Ice.” Just weeks ago we all celebrated the victories of our Winter Olympic athletes at the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. ORDA maintains and operates the ice rink where history was made thirty years ago as well as the other venues where our Olympic athletes trained so hard to represent our country so well. Is the intent really to shut these down? Has this been thought through?

I write today urging the Senate Democratic leadership to immediately denounce this proposal. Restore the funding and work across party lines to identify areas of the budget in which we can find savings to address the current budget crisis without causing undue and irreparable harm to the North Country and all of New York State.


Elizabeth O’C. Little

Cc: Senator Malcolm Smith, Temporary President
Senator Pedro Espada, Majority Leader
Senator Carl Kruger, Chair, Senate Finance

Not long after, state Democratic Conference spokesman Travis Proulx released this statement.

“No one wants to protect our Olympic heritage more than Senate Democrats, however, that doesn’t answer the question: where does the money come from when the state has a $9 billion deficit? Senator Little voted against a fair and responsible budget resolution on Monday which creates jobs and tax relief – two issues very important to her district. Nonetheless, we’re hopeful the senator will continue her record of bipartisanship and come to the table with serious proposals for alternative cuts and revenue, and then partner with us in passing a balanced budget which controls spending and gives New Yorkers a government they can afford.”

Oh, and Congressman Scott Murphy weighed in this afternoon too.

“Just last month, we were cheering on our athletes as they competed in the Vancouver Winter Games,” said Rep. Murphy. “These short-sighted cuts proposed by the New York State Senate will devastate our long term economic growth and development. While we must make tough choices to get our budget back into line, devastating the Upstate economy is the wrong way to go about it. Thirty years after the Miracle on Ice, the Olympics remain at the heart of the Adirondack community.”

We will keep a close eye on this as it continues to develop throughout conference committee.

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