Serving as your voice in our State Assembly is an honor, privilege and responsibility I take very seriously. One of my top priorities as your Assembly representative is listening to and learning more about the issues affecting you and your family. In order to accomplish this goal, I am once again issuing an official Legislative Survey seeking your views and opinions to help shape my 2011 Legislative Agenda. My Legislative Survey contains 12 questions and will take just a few minutes to complete.
This year, in addition to arriving soon in local mailboxes, this Legislative Survey is also available on my official Facebook page and provided in its entirety in this week's column. Below each of the 12 questions is a series of "Response Options" to choose from. You can clip out and mail back this column, along with your responses, to my district office at 607 West Washington Street, Suite 2, Geneva, NY 14456, or fax it to me at (315) 781-1746. You can also e-mail me your responses at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact my office and request that a copy of my 2011 Legislative Survey be e-mailed directly to you.
Thank you in advance for taking part in my 2011 Legislative Survey and letting me know your opinions on the important public policies the Assembly will consider this year. A future column will provide the aggregated survey results. I look forward to hearing from you!
QUESTION 1: IS NEW YORK STATE ON THE RIGHT TRACK?
Do you feel as if things in New York State are headed in the right direction or are they on the wrong track? Response Options: Right direction or Wrong track.
QUESTION 2: HAS THE RECESSION ENDED?
Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: "The recession in New York has ended and our economy is finally growing again." Response Options: Agree or Disagree.
QUESTION 3: DID THE RECESSION AFFECT YOU?
Have you, or has someone you know, been laid off from a job in the past year? Response Options: Yes or No.
QUESTION 4: 2011-12 STATE BUDGET
Governor Andrew Cuomo's 2011-12 Executive Budget contains "savings targets" for State Agencies that, if unrealized, could ultimately result in up to 9,800 state workers being laid off unless public employee unions make concessions. Would you favor such a reduction in the state workforce to help close New York's projected $10 billion budget deficit? Response Options: Yes; Yes, but with less than 9,800 layoffs; No, find the savings somewhere else; or Undecided - send me more information on this topic.
QUESTION 5: CLOSING NEW YORK'S $10 BILLION BUDGET DEFICIT
As mentioned above, New York State faces a projected $10 billion budget deficit. What do you think are the best ways to close this multi-billion dollar shortfall? Response Options (Circle all that apply): Consolidate and merge State Agencies with overlapping functions, Reduce spending on education, Cut State Agency budgets by 10%, Reduce Medicaid services, Offer incentives to public employees for early retirement, Institute a hiring and wage freeze for public employees, Collect sales taxes from cigarettes and gasoline sold on Native American lands to non-Native American Indians, Increase borrowing, or Raise taxes.
QUESTION 6: PROPERTY TAX CAP
A property tax cap would restrict the rate of growth of local property tax increases, but place greater burdens on local governments and school districts by limiting their funding - unless the tax cap included relief from Albany's rules, regulations, red tape and government mandates. Knowing this, which statement best describes your feelings on a property tax cap? Response Options: I favor a property tax cap that includes mandate relief, I favor a property tax cap, I oppose a property tax cap, or Undecided - send me more information on this topic.
QUESTION 7: "PEOPLE'S CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION"
Since New York State's founding, several Constitutional Conventions have been convened to make necessary changes and reforms to our state government. Do you support holding a non-partisan, grassroots "People's Constitutional Convention" to deliver positive change and fix our broken state government? A People's Convention would move up the opportunity for real reform up six years and prevent elected officials and political party bosses from serving in such a convention. Response Options: Strongly favor, Somewhat favor, Somewhat oppose, Strongly oppose, or Undecided - send me more information on this topic.
QUESTION 8: REDISTRICTING PROCESS
In 2012, the boundaries for State Assembly and State Senate districts will be re-drawn. The current process is dominated by the Majorities in both houses and used to protect their political power - even it means your voice in Albany is diminished. Do you favor taking this process out of the hands of the State Legislature by establishing an independent Legislative Redistricting Commission that would redraw districts without regard to political party? Response Options: Strongly favor, Somewhat favor, Somewhat oppose, Strongly oppose, or Undecided - send me more information on this topic.
QUESTION 9: ETHICS & GOVERNMENT REFORM
For years, state government - and Albany in particular - have been plagued by a "culture of corruption" and a series of embarrassing "pay-to-play scandals" where insiders, special interests and lobbyists have traded campaign donations for government favors. What do you support as the best way to enact meaningful reform and clean up state government? Response Options (circle all that apply): Term limits for legislators, Term limits for Legislative Leaders, Campaign finance reform, Comprehensive ethics reform, Public disclosure of all outside income earned by legislators, or Convening a "People's Constitutional Convention."
QUESTION 10: SAME SEX MARRIAGE
Do you favor allowing same-sex couples in New York State the legal right to marry, or do you believe that the institution of marriage should remain solely between a man and a woman? Response Options: Support same-sex marriage; Oppose same sex marriage; Favor a different approach, such as civil unions; or Undecided.
QUESTION 11: HYDRO-FRACKING
New York State is home to an abundant supply of clean natural gas reserves that could be accessed through a process of hydraulic fracturing, also referred to as "hyrdro-fracking." Supporters of accessing this energy supply believe that, with careful oversight from the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), tapping our natural gas reserves this will create thousands of good-paying jobs and generate billions for New York's economy. Opponents cite safety concerns and the potential of groundwater contamination. Where do you stand? Response Options: I support this type of energy exploration - New York needs more jobs, I oppose such an effort - the environmental risks are too great, or Undecided - send me more information on this topic.
QUESTION 12: "TELE-TOWN HALL"
One of my top priorities as your Assemblyman is staying in close contact and hearing what matters to you. A new way to stay connected is through a "Tele-Town Hall," which is a telephone conference call that allows citizens to actively participate in a live discussion and pose questions. Tele-Town Halls are useful because they allow more people to contribute than a traditional Town Hall meeting. I plan to conduct a Tele-Town Hall Meeting for constituents in the Spring - would you be interested in participating? If so, please be sure to include your e-mail address. Response Options: Yes, I would like to participate in your Tele-Town Hall Meeting in the Spring, Not at this time, or Undecided - send me more information on your Tele-Town Hall.
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.