By the time you read this column, the 2011 Legislative Session finally will have concluded. In keeping with Albany’s typical mad dash to the end, Session ended five days past June 20, which was supposed to have been its last day. Our final week in Albany saw some very late nights filled with debate and discussion on issues of great importance and controversy. The following are some policy highlights of the recently concluded 2011 Legislative Session:
SUCCESSES: REDUCED SPENDING, CLOSED $10 BILLION DEFICIT, BEGAN RIGHTSIZING GOVERNMENT, ENACTED PROPERTY TAX CAP
The 2011 Legislative Session achieved real progress on tackling some of New York State’s most pressing fiscal and governmental challenges. This session we:
- Closed a $10 billion deficit without resorting to tax increases or borrowing;
- Passed an on-time State Budget for the first time in a long time;
- Made the “Power for Jobs” program permanent;
- Reduced spending and began rightsizing state government;
- Enacted a real property tax cap that made a down payment on relief for homeowners;
- Renewed Article X, New York’s expired power plant siting law;
- Implemented a rational SUNY tuition policy to help families better plan for future education costs, while keeping SUNY a national leader in educational excellence; and
- Passed bi-partisan ethics reform.
I am especially proud of the fact that these bi-partisan accomplishments were cornerstones of the public policy agenda I have long championed. Each of these reforms was better than what New York had, but I believe that we can do even better than this.
GOING FORWARD: FOCUS ON UNFUNDED MANDATE RELIEF AND PRIVATE SECTOR JOB CREATION
Absent significant relief from unfunded mandates and Albany-imposed cost drivers, New York’s property tax crisis remains. The unfunded mandate relief contained in the session-ending omnibus bill was insufficient; it did not address two of Albany’s biggest cost drivers: Medicaid and pensions.
Going forward, we need to:
- Remove Medicaid mandates off the backs of localities;
- Enact defined-benefit, defined-contribution pension reform;
- Pass a state spending cap to ensure Albany lives within its means; and
- Move forward with a true economic development and private sector job creation plan that puts the hundreds of thousands of unemployed New Yorkers back to work.
The focus of our legislative work over the next several months must be advancing a public policy agenda that translates each of these priorities into a reality for the better, more affordable New York State we all deserve.
GIVE THE “GIFT OF LIFE,” TAKE PART IN MY BLOOD DRIVE ON JULY 12
Session has concluded and summer has officially arrived, meaning New Yorkers can say goodbye to what seemed like an unusually long winter and chilly spring. It also means that many hospitals will see a drop in their blood supplies as donations typically decrease. In response to the need for blood at hospitals, I am sponsoring an American Red Cross blood drive on Tuesday, July 12 from 1:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Canandaigua Inn on the Lake located at 770 South Main Street, Canandaigua.
The demand for blood is year-round: one unit of blood can save the lives of up to three people and a blood transfusion is needed every two seconds in America. Donating blood is safe, convenient, and one of the most important things a person can do to ensure hospitals have adequate supplies of this critical resource. Please help make a positive difference by taking part in my community blood drive on July 12!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.