This past Monday, I was honored as my colleagues elected me to serve as Leader of our Assembly Minority Conference. I promised that our Conference would vigorously pursue the "people's agenda" and work to ensure the taxpayer's voice - your voice - is heard loud and clear by state government.
The people's agenda is not mired in the politics of division - pitting Upstate against Downstate - or the tired old blame game of partisan politics. Instead, it is rooted in a common sense, non-partisan desire to achieve a less costly, more accountable state government and, equally important, more jobs and opportunities for all New Yorkers.
In case you are wondering if New York needs such an agenda, ask yourself the following: do the people who have been running state government understand the unique challenges facing Upstate? Do they recognize the tremendous obstacles small businesses across our Finger Lakes community face on a daily basis? Does the fact that homeowners from Buffalo to Long Island pay the highest property taxes in our nation keep the politicians in Albany awake at night?
If you answered "no" to any of those questions, you have plenty of company. All across New York, there is a growing "taxpayer revolt" demanding real change in the way Albany does business. A majority of New Yorkers want an end to politics as usual where the politicians in Albany serve the special interests, rather than the people's interests.
I believe state government must become more accountable, responsive and attentive to its number one customer: you, the taxpayer. It begins by advancing the people's agenda that includes:
PROPERTY TAX RELIEF: Enact real property tax relief and ban unfunded state mandates that drive-up local property taxes;
STRONGER ECONOMY: Improve New York's business climate to create more private sector jobs. Make our state more economically competitive to encourage businesses to expand or locate right here in New York State by reducing taxes, lowering the cost of energy, and eliminating excessive government regulations;
SAFER NEIGHBORHOODS: Pass tough laws - and enforce laws already on the books - to deal with a new breed of criminal that abuses technology to prey on the innocent. Provide law enforcement with the resources and support they need to make our neighborhoods safe to live in;
QUALITY EDUCATION: In this global economy, our children are not just competing against students in 49 other states, but India and China as well. This is why we need every education dollar to reach the classroom, encourage more students to enter the teaching profession and maintain local control over education decisions; and
AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE: We need to ensure our health care system puts patients first and brings down costs for consumers. This can be achieved by curbing abuse and providing state tax credits to help people afford health insurance.
This agenda - the people's agenda - will make New York State a safer, better, more affordable place for all its citizens. It is what our Assembly Minority Conference will seek to advance under my leadership.
As always, constituents wishing to discuss this topic, or any other state-related matter, should contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, or e-mail me at email@example.com.