New York State Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,I,C-Canandaigua) and New Roosevelt Chairman and "EffectiveNY" co-founder Bill Samuels hosted Central New York taxpayers tonight at the first EffectiveNY Town Hall meeting at Le Moyne College in Syracuse to get the conversation started about creating a more effective State government and State Constitution.
"Albany has finally begun to change course. After years of dysfunction and gridlock, our passing an early State Budget this year - the first time since 1983 - was a clear example of real progress at our State Capitol. However, for all the good news about the State Budget we shouldn't fool ourselves into believing that the machinery of state government is now operating with 100 percent efficiency. It's not. Neither has Albany done enough to say a fond farewell to the bad old days of secrecy, closed doors and lack of accountability to taxpayers. For as good as the final State Budget was, the budget process itself is still a work in progress. Together with my EffectiveNY co-founders Bill Samuels and Dr. Gerald Benjamin, I'll continue speaking out about how we can create a better budget process and restore New York's reputation as a national economic and public policy leader," Leader Kolb said.
EffectiveNY is a bipartisan reform coalition that seeks to bring together recognized leaders and experts from the worlds of nonprofit/good government advocacy, private sector leadership and public service, academia and scholarly research to advance serious public discussion of issues pertaining to New York's state constitution, state government, the economy and public policy.
Leader Kolb and Bill Samuels discussed the new reform coalition and their goals of creating a better government, a stronger economy, a modernized State Constitution and a more responsive civic process.
Tonight's Syracuse Town Hall, which was free and open to the public, was the first in a series of Town Hall meetings held across Upstate New York. EffectiveNY public forums are also being held in Canandaigua on April 11 and in Buffalo on April 12. In addition to Leader Kolb and Samuels, Dr. Gerald Benjamin, Associate Vice President for Regional Engagement and Director of the Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach (CRREO) at SUNY New Paltz is a co-founder of EffectiveNY.
Bill Samuels, Chairman of the New Roosevelt Foundation, a leading good government activist and progressive thinker in New York, said, "In order for New York to truly be a leader in state government, we must have the nation's best Constitution," Samuels said. "Leader Kolb and I have embarked on a tour of Upstate because we want to hear from the people about how they believe we can best reform our State's Constitution and begin the process of restoring trust and faith in our government. Unfortunately, business in Albany is still largely conducted by the few and behind closed doors. We need to reverse that process and that is why we are taking the message of EffectiveNY across New York."
"Through the Effective New York website and project we are helping make New Yorkers across our state aware of the fundamental role our State Constitution plays in day-to-day governance. The State Constitution and its meaning figures in to almost all the big issues of the day - from legislative redistricting, to mandates on school districts, to pension reform, to the use of executive power in governing. And it's only through serious constitutional reform that some of these issues will find long-term resolution. We at CRREO are most pleased to be at the center of this important work for all New Yorkers," said Dr. Gerald Benjamin.
"The politics-as-usual attitude in Albany has contributed to statewide dysfunction, an underperforming economy and the loss of trust by New Yorkers in their state government and the men and women serving in it. In terms of achieving accountability and ending secrecy, Albany definitely remains a 'work in progress,'" Kolb said. "I have said it before and I will say it again - taxpayers deserve to have their voices represented in a legislative process that is 100 percent open and accountable. That is our goal and what EffectiveNY and I are continuing to work toward," Leader Kolb stated.
"Tonight's Town Hall took an important first step - starting a conversation about creating lasting, meaningful change in Albany. I look forward to working together with the men and women that attended tonight's meeting to create a more effective and transparent New York," Leader Kolb concluded.