Normally I stick with central New York things here, but this one needs to go to the entire state as well as the central New York area. The latest budget has passed and even though the politicians seem happy, they’re the only people happy, yet won’t be happy for long.

What have we lost? We have to look at it like that because, well, it ain’t pretty. Medicaid’s taking a big hit, ergo health care. Education is taking a big hit, and thus go many teachers, all of whom are forced by our state to get masters degrees that mean absolutely nothing except for the state’s being able to get more money out of the people they don’t want to pay in the first place. We’ve lost the symphony; not crucial, but irksome because I like the symphony. We could be losing things such as the Salt Museum, the Everson, Fort Ste. Marie and other sites around town that depend on state and city funds; remember, some parks were closed last year so why should this year be any different?

What’s coming? Government jobs will be going, and that’s only thinking about state jobs, as we’re looking at the possibility of the federal government shutting down as I write this. If state jobs go, we all know county jobs will be next.

Let’s face it; things are getting expensive, yet we’re starting to lose services. No one seems to have any ideas on how to get things stimulated and moving in the right direction. Unemployment is still high, and Carousel isn’t going to become the dream we all heard of years ago that’s called DestiNY USA. Shoppingtown Mall is on the verge of bankruptcy, and even the Syracuse Chamber & the Metropolitan Development Agency had to merge to become Centerstate CEO to survive. In other words, we need a plan, because we can’t continue hoping to find ways to cut expenses, and things such as tax free days on clothing and taxing cigarettes into oblivion aren’t getting it done (and I’m assuming no one wants to think about the things Governor Patterson advocated, many of which he was correct on in my opinion).

If no one else is going to take up the cause, then I will. People might not like these ideas, and may even challenge some of them, but at least I’m coming up with something; here we go.

1. Work on infrastructure. This is always a recommendation of mine, but it makes a lot of sense. The south side of Syracuse only collects 38% in potential taxes because, well, let’s just say it needs to be vastly improved. They had a guy here from Kentucky whose idea was to sell all the properties to artists and the like, get rid of all the poor people (he didn’t care where they went) and start generating taxes. There are areas like this across the state. I say the state, city and counties need to pony up the money, do some planning, tear down the eyesores and start building new properties, and find someone willing to put one big job generating industry in the area. When rebuilding, have a resolution that at least 50% of the people working on the projects have to be from the neighborhoods. Then watch and see what other businesses will pop up as a result of new renovation based on new innovation in the area; happens all the time, and it gives those living in the area a hand in it all.

2. Invest in training with a concentration on services we all need. Do you think we have enough plumbers or electricians in the area? I don’t. I also doing think we have enough people that know how to do minor repairs that are certified to do them, whether it’s construction related or not. Who else is tired of contracting someone to replace your windows and then having to wait a month? These things pay well, and there are plenty of opportunities for people with real skills to work. Having them certified means the rest of us don’t have to worry that we keep hiring the wrong people over and over, as I have with my roof (don’t get me started).

3. Plan for revitalization of suburbs close to the city and get it started. When I moved to this area in 1975, Mattydale was considered a hopping place while Baldwinsville was looked at “what’s this place”. That’s just the truth. Now, 30+ years later, Baldwinsville has turned itself into a smaller, less expensive version of Skaneateles while Mattydale… well, you know. The areas that are around the major highways really need to be amped up because those area represent central New York as much as, well, Syracuse itself. For that matter, Liverpool needs some luster as well along Route 57, Electronics Parkway, etc. I’m not talking about cosmetic changes; I’m talking about real businesses with the opportunity to grow and succeed. What’s this take? Tax breaks for businesses that employ more than 50 people with incentives for growth. Why does the Empire Zone only get to apply to the city?

4. Better support for new small or sole proprietorship businesses. Sorry Syracuse, but Score and the Small Business Administration didn’t get it done for me, and it didn’t work for a lot of other people either. Local Chambers of Commerce aren’t geared towards helping anyone with anything except networking possibilities. There needs to be better training and better information on things like outsourcing, marketing, taxes and budgeting, which some people see as business plans but it’s so much more and much different than that. Statistics say that the failure rate for small businesses is 90%; we can do better than that.

5. Consolidation. This one riles some people up, but let’s face the fact that if there’s a lot of waste in state government and for state workers, and there is, that there’s just as much, if not more, on local levels. I mean, some areas in the state are paying taxes to support the state, county, city, town and villages at times. I live in the city of Liverpool, in the town of Clay in Onondaga County; what’s that? Some people live in the Village of Liverpool; more money comes out of their pocket. Sometimes the rest of us aren’t sure who to call to address issues we might have; I’m thinking that a simplification of that would reduce our overall financial liabilities and help us focus on just who works for us and when.

There you are, my five initial ideas. Like them or hate them, at least they’re ideas. What do you have to offer? Go ahead, share.

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