~ The paths that schools and hospitals are on are similar and interconnected. Programs are limited, staff has been laid off, and rainy day funds are evaporating.
~ Their similar paths will impact the future of this region.
~ Regarding Employment Mr. Acker stated:
1. "The continuation and the creation of jobs is the oxygen of all communities."
2. Stable employment is critical and large stable employers are the most critical because without them there is no tax base, no decent services, no infrastructure that is supportable..."There is simply a wasteland of poverty."
3. "The pulse of the center of the North Country is in the 4 colleges. No businesses, particularly the colleges, can recruit and retain students and faculty without good healthcare. No hospital can recruit good doctors without high quality public schools."
Mr. Acker went on to say, "If the schools begin to slide, and the hospitals will begin to follow that same slope, the colleges will be right behind."
~ Regarding funding:
1. Mr. Acker addressed the fact that, regarding health care and education, the nation is asking legitimate questions about fixing the systems before continuing to throw money at them. He said that until that debate is resolved, there will be continued cuts.
~ Regarding politics:
1. "The political system is too corroded by money to allow for our voices to be heard." He said, "I don't believe anyone's going to ride to the rescue." Acker noted that there are well-intentioned people in Washington and Albany but he believes they do not have the answers, the money, or the knowledge to "craft good solutions that work for us."
~ Regarding the problem:
1. "The heart of the problem is the uncontrolled health care spending that is blowing up his (Pat Brady's) budget - whether for current employees or retirees - and the hospital is the face of that problem. And if we stay on that path, where our hospitals go is to get more of the school's money, and we will sink them, which will sink us, which will sink others."
2. "Our biggest problem is not money, it's time. There must be a sense of urgency about tackling the problem."
~ Regarding the solution
- "...the solution involves the school, its employees, and the health care providers changing the paradigm." Mr. Acker went on to pose guiding principles. Among them:
- That we are not victims waiting powerlessly for the next release of bad news. "We are leaders," stated Acker, and "it is our job to act."
- "We're not prisoners to the paradigms of the old - to parochial pride, to benefit structures that find past promises divorced from present economic realities."