Kulleseid touts state investments

Parks commissioner highlights 2023 budget in Lake Placid

Erik Kulleseid visits Lake Placid Monday. (Enterprise photo — Lauren Yates)

LAKE PLACID — New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Erik Kulleseid visited Lake Placid on Monday to highlight details in the state’s 2023 fiscal year budget.

Kulleseid, who’s served as OPRHP commissioner since 2019, gave a more than 20-minute overview of the new state budget at the Conference Center in Lake Placid, highlighting some investments specific to the North Country and the area’s Olympic facilities.

The presentation was jointly hosted by the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism and the state Olympic Regional Development Authority. ROOST CEO Jim McKenna, who introduced Kulleseid, touted OPRHP’s role in upgrading the Adirondack Park’s two historic sites — both located in Essex County — that Kulleseid’s office is responsible for: the Crown Point State Historic Site and John Brown Farm.

McKenna told Kulleseid that ORDA and other state agencies in the area have upgraded their facilities “significantly,” and he asked Kulleseid if upgrades might be possible at Essex County’s two historic sites.

“Think we’ll see that in these facilities in Essex County in the future, commissioner?” McKenna asked Kulleseid.

“We’re making investments as fast as we can,” Kulleseid replied.

Budget presentation

Kulleseid celebrated the $221 billion 2023 budget as one that’s “making investments.” Despite the projected increase in spending over last year — over $8 billion more spending in the new fiscal year than in last year’s $212 billion budget — Kulleseid said the governor and state legislature saw an opportunity for an increase thanks to an influx of pandemic-related federal aid and higher-than-expected tax revenues during the pandemic.

“That money is not being squandered,” he said. ” This is a budget that’s a lot about investments — investments in environmental infrastructure, social infrastructure, medical infrastructure, recreational infrastructure — to sort of take on a lot of those things that New York has been wanting to invest in for a long time, and has not had the chance to, and we’re taking advantage of this year.”

Kulleseid highlighted middle-class tax cuts for around 86,000 North Country taxpayers, partially allocated for homeowners and partially for tax relief. He also discussed the budget’s investment in fuel cost relief, schools and childcare programs, the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative, COVID-19 relief funds, SUNY and CUNY schools, affordable housing and new businesses.

Kulleseid mentioned the budget’s $105 million in capital funding for ORDA, which includes upgrades to ORDA’s Olympic facilities.

He also spent some time detailing the state budget’s climate investments, including a proposed $4.2 billion environmental bond act that will go before voters this November. The budget also sets aside a record $4 billion for the state Environmental Protection Fund.

A moment of silence

Kulleseid paused a few minutes into his presentation and asked for a moment of silence to honor the victims of Saturday’s mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket.

“That kind of aggression and hatred against our fellow New Yorkers — it’s just horrifying,” he said. “The governor’s horrified, we’re all horrified.”


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