"My friends I believe this state is at a crossroads and I believe there are two very different paths this state may go down. Certain factors are pushing us down one path - the national economic pressure; the costs of state government that we're currently expending; the dysfunction that the state government has been manifesting and the fact that the people have lost trust in our government. They would dictate this state follow one course. But there's an alternative, when you look at the assets of this state; when you look at the legacy of this state; when you look at the tenacity of our people and when you look at the quality of our people - you have the very real sense that we can turn this crisis into an opportunity."
TIME TO HIT THE "RESET" BUTTON
So began Governor Andrew Cuomo's stirring 2011 State of the State Address delivered last Wednesday to the people of New York State. I believe that Governor Cuomo's speech - and his approach thus far as our state's Chief Executive - offers New York a fresh start and a much-needed chance to hit the "reset" button. After enduring years of embarrassing ethical scandals, and a pattern of fiscal and governmental mismanagement under recent administrations, Governor Cuomo's new, business-like approach could not arrive soon enough!
Simply put, we have in our collective grasp the potential for a brand new day, one filled with optimism and opportunity, fueled by the belief that, after so many disappointments and missed opportunities, the greatness of New York can finally be restored. Speaking as a lifelong New Yorker and someone who believes in the promise and potential of our state and its people, I could not agree more with this positive approach.
A NEW GOVERNOR, A NEW YEAR AND A NEW SESSION = AN OPPORTUNITY FOR REAL CHANGE
Before a single word of his State of the State was spoken, Governor Cuomo demonstrated a clear willingness to do things differently. Instead of holding the speech in the Assembly Chamber, the Governor chose the Empire State Convention Center as his venue. Additionally, the Governor's State of the State Address was truly a 21st century multi-media presentation, as it made use of over 80 informative and, at times, humorous power point slides to drive home his message.
TURNING CRISIS INTO OPPORTUNITY
Throughout his speech, the Governor continually returned to the theme of New York finding itself at a "crossroads." One path would lead to the state continuing on with "business as usual" - a misdirection that has led to record deficits, record government spending, record job losses and a record number of New Yorkers losing faith in their government. However, the other path would mean turning the page, embracing real change and recapturing the spirit of a New York that once led the nation in commerce, innovation and quality of life. The Governor outlined how, by working together to meet these challenges, we could turn New York's fiscal and governmental crisis into a genuine moment of opportunity.
Much of this opportunity would come by transforming our government from an outdated, costly and unresponsive bureaucracy into an engine of innovation by embracing management principles and best practices routinely used in the private sector: competition, efficiency and modernization. As the only Legislative Leader in state government that has started and run successful private sector businesses, hearing the Governor use this language was music to my ears!
YES TO FISCAL, GOVERNMENTAL AND ETHICS REFORM - AND OUR CONFERENCE'S BI-PARTISAN PLEDGE OF COOPERATION
Many of the themes Governor Cuomo outlined - the need to return to fiscal responsibility, better management of state government and taxpayer dollars, delivering real tax relief, rebuilding our economy and strengthening ethics - are the cornerstone issues our Assembly Minority Conference has long led the fight on. What is needed - and been lacking in the recent past - is the necessary follow-through to turn the speech's poetry into prose, to have its words translate into actual public policies, especially those relating to pocketbook issues. Our entire Assembly Minority Conference and I will actively partner with the Governor, continuing our commitment to bi-partisan cooperation and advancing an agenda focused on delivering real solutions to the real problems confronting New York's taxpayers and businesses. We share the goal of a better, less costly New York.
SPORTSMEN DAY 2011 IS QUICKLY APPROACHING!
Have you circled "Tuesday, January 25" on your calendar yet? If not, please do so today! That is when our Conference is sponsoring 2011 "Sportsmen and Outdoor Recreation Legislative Awareness Day." Much like our well-attended 2010 event, Sportsmen Day 2011 is being held in the "Well" of the State Legislative Office Building in Albany, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Our gathering - which is free and open to the public - will feature sportsmen and Second Amendment advocates from across New York, and includes a special message from Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President and CEO of the National Rifle Association. As I have said in previous weekly columns, Sportsmen Day 2011 is a "must-attend" event! So what are you waiting for? RSVP for Sportsmen Day - Tuesday, January 25 - by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org, calling (518) 455-5073, or finding our event on Facebook.
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. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and informational updates regarding state government and our Assembly Minority Conference.