County Executive Gorski made a direct appeal to state lawmakers today regarding their strategy in reducing state spending.
As state legislators try to bridge the state's $1 billion deficit, Gorski hopes to persuade key lawmakers to go easy on county governments.
"I'm not debating whether they have a $1 billion problem. I accept that they have to reduce spending. But I want to make sure they don't solve their problem by shifting the costs to local governments," said Gorski, a former Democratic assemblyman.
Gorski plans to meet with members of the Western New York legislative delegation and Legislature officials this afternoon and Tuesday if necessary.
County budget staffers have identified nearly $4 million in potential state aid cuts to Erie County in 1990 and another $9 million next year. Gorski said he will be asking state lawmakers to consider alternatives to direct aid cuts.
He said one of those alternatives is in the area of health aid, where Gov. Cuomo has proposed reductions that would clip $4 million from Erie County Medical Center and Erie County Home accounts in 1991.
An alternative plan incorporating a 1 percent tax on all hospitals in the state has since surfaced, and Gorski hopes to persuade legislators to give it strong consideration.
"This is better than the original proposal, but still not great. We're going to get hit one way or another. I just want to soften the blow," Gorski said.
County Budget Director Sheila K. Kee said she has been on the phone to Albany budget sources several times a day attempting to keep abreast of the latest proposals. Both she and Deputy County Executive David R. Smith, a former Yonkers official, have traveled to the state capital in recent days to lobby and obtain the most recent information.
"When the state finally does what it has to do to solve its budget crisis, it must keep the needs of county governments and taxpayers on the table along with all the other interests," she said.
Gorski said that with so much potential aid at stake, he felt he had to make a personal appeal.
"I think my presence shows how serious we are. They are considering budget items that could have devastating effect on Erie County," he said.