Opinions of speech differ among some local officials

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposals in his State of the State address Wednesday received a mixed reaction from local officials and state legislators.

Among Cuomo’s initiatives is an effort to strengthen gun control.

Fulton County Sheriff Thomas Lorey said he doesn’t see the need for more gun control.

“I am opposed to any further gun restrictions because New York already has the fourth most stringent gun restriction laws in the country,” Lorey said. “What we need to do is further enforce the laws we already have. I don’t think anything in the governor’s proposal will do one thing to prevent one crime.”

Lorey, who said the state should enforce existing laws, said more gun registration laws would put an additional burden on law enforcement.

Lorey said further gun control would be “a foot in the door to further restrictions on the Second Amendment rights.”

“I am a firm believer that they need to ease the restrictions put on law enforcement by the medical community regarding people with mental health issues,” Lorey said. “Currently, there is really no place to house folks with serious mental health issues long term. Folks like that need medical treatment and don’t need to be put in a cage and need to be kept away from the general population until they become well again.”

State Assemblyman Marc Butler, R-Newport, said he’s concerned about what constitutes an assault weapon.

“That [term] conjures up an image in people’s minds and it is a negative image,” Butler said.

State Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, said he expects gun control to be a topic in the state Legislature this year.

“Something probably will be done on gun control,” Farley said. “I know the Senate majority is very anxious to have the mental health issue in there and upping the penalty for illegal people with guns, but all of this is under negotiations right now and legislation is not immediately forth coming.”

The governor, in his speech, also called for decriminalization of certain amounts of marijuana people possess in “open view.”

Lorey said he’d oppose the measure.

“I would be opposed to any change in the current laws we have regarding any illegal substances,” Lorey said.

Gloversville Mayor Dayton King said he generally was pleased with the speech.

King said he felt Cuomo’s statement about bringing casinos into upstate New York was a good plan. If one were to be built in the area, it would help the economy, he said.

“There are hundreds of people who need jobs, and this would also create more opportunities for other businesses to serve the hundreds of people that would work at the casino. I will be meeting with the leaders in our city and county to make sure we do everything we can to seize this opportunity,” King said.

He disagreed with Cuomo on raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.75, a yearly increase of around $3,000.

“While this may allow for some people to have a little more money each week, $3,000 per year will not drastically change anyone’s lifestyles. It may, in fact, cause some people to be laid off because a small-business owner can’t afford to pay the increase for a hundred or hundreds of people on minimum wage” King said. “A $3,000 increase for even 10 people is $30,000. In order to compensate for that increase, the small-business owner may lay off two people making $15,000 per year.”

Fulton-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce President Mark Kilmer agreed a minimum wage increase may cause several businesses to lay off multiple workers to keep the rate of one worker.

“Sometimes, it can be a job killer more than an enhancer to the economy,” Kilmer said.

The governor also proposed a Next Generation Job Linkage Program that would link community colleges with employers to identify the job, define the skill, and provide training for it. He said the state would pay for performance by funding colleges based on student job placement.

FMCC President Dustin Swanger said the college already has strong advisory committees in place for career programs that develop curriculum based on what employers need.

“I think it makes sense because you want to make sure you are offering programs that are relevant and provide the skills the employers need,” Swanger said.

However, Swanger said he has concerns about the discussion of a pay-for-performance system in higher education.

“It is important to know what you’re measuring, and what you’re measuring makes a difference,” Swanger said. “I’m OK with performance-based funding at some level because we do good work and work very hard to make sure students are successful. I do get concerned when politicians start talking about performance-based funding, not because I don’t want to be held responsible, but community colleges are places of opportunity.”

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