Our 2012 Legislative Session has officially concluded, and I am pleased to report that it was a tremendous success! By working together, we were able to build upon the many achievements from last year and once again deliver real results for a better, more affordable New York. This year’s successful Session marks the second consecutive year we have delivered the positive change New Yorkers have been demanding.
MORE PROGRESS FOR A BETTER NEW YORK
By all accounts, the reforms I have supported and the policies I have been championing helped move our state government toward greater accountability, transparency and responsiveness. All of these are welcome changes from Albany’s previous broken status quo of gridlock, partisanship and dysfunction. While there is more to do and room for continued improvement, make no mistake, we are making progress for a better New York!
RESPONSIBLE BUDGET, FISCAL ACCOUNTABILITY, MEDICAID MANDATE RELIEF, PROTECTING NEW YORKERS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS, RANK AMONG OUR SESSION SUCCESSES
From continuing fiscal accountability and responsible budgeting, to making a down payment on Medicaid mandate relief, to protecting some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers, there are many bi-partisan achievements from this year’s Session to be proud of, including:
- On-Time, Fiscally Responsible State Budget: 2012-13 State Budget was adopted early, closed a $3.5 billion deficit and held government spending below the rate of inflation;
- Medicaid Mandate Cost Relief: State will gradually assume the increase in the local share of New York’s Medicaid program, which is America’s costliest;
- Pension Reform: Enacted a Tier VI pension plan for new public employees, allowed participation in an optional defined contribution plan for legislators and non-union employees;
- Redistricting Reform: Gave first passage to a proposed State Constitutional Amendment to establish an Independent Redistricting Commission;
- Cyber-Bullying Prevention: Prohibited bullying and cyber-bullying in public schools to better protect students;
- Invest in Education: Increased community college base aid funding to $2,272 per student, and increased State aid to school districts by $805 million, for a total of $20.3 billion;
- Build New York’s “Innovation Economy”: Provided $250 million in capital funding for facilities at the SUNY College of Nanoscale and Science Engineering that will support computer chip technology expansion and leverage a $4.4 billion investment by IBM, Intel, GlobalFoundries, TSMC and Samsung;
- Fix our Roads and Bridges: Supported $1.2 billion in New York Works Transportation funding to help pay for bridge repairs, pavement preservation projects and accelerate projects throughout the state;
- DNA Databank: Expanded the State’s DNA databank by requiring DNA samples from individuals convicted of any felony or Penal Law misdemeanor;
- Protect New Yorkers with Special Needs: Enacted the “Protection of People with Special Needs Act” to create uniform safeguards in residential facilities and day programs; and
- Honor the Sacrifice of Our Veterans: Prohibited protests at veteran funeral services without a permit and extended the non-protest buffer zone from 100 to 300 feet.
OUR CONFERENCE PLAYED A BIG ROLE IN NEW YORK’S SUCCESS
I am proud – very proud – of the substantive, serious and important role the men and women of our Conference have played in charting a new course for a stronger New York: our legislation, our advocacy, our floor debates helped lay the ground for this and last year’s successes. We represent over six million New Yorkers and take our public service responsibilities very seriously, which is why we continue fighting the good fight to ensure that Albany hears the voices of hardworking taxpayers and changes how it does the people’s business.
UNFUNDED MANDATE RELIEF, MORE JOBS AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ARE UNRESOLVED ISSUES NEEDING OUR ATTENTION
However, now is not the time for self-congratulation – far from it. The fact remains that our local communities, local school districts and local taxpayers still need relief from Albany’s crushing and costly unfunded mandates. New York’s rising unemployment rate means we need many more jobs. Our economy is not nearly competitive enough and building the innovation economy will require a “culture change” within state government, one that emphasizes entrepreneurial innovation over bureaucratic stagnation. If we apply the same bi-partisan approach that has worked so well the past two years, we can solve these remaining challenges.
NEXT WEEK: More of my “Smart Solutions” to deliver unfunded mandate relief for local communities and taxpayers, and create more good-paying jobs for New Yorkers!
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.