As Session Winds Down, Finch Zeros In On Bipartisan Bills

Decries political games that hold good policy hostage.
June 18, 2018

Assemblyman Gary D. Finch (R,C,I-Springport) has sponsored plenty of productive legislation this session. He sponsored the most stringent package of ethics laws in the country. He sponsors bills to strengthen penalties against domestic abusers and sponsors a measure which would require insurance companies to expand coverage for inpatient treatment for heroin and opiate addiction. He drafted a bill which would create a school resource unit in the State Police and allow each school in the state to request an officer for their building.

“I’ll be fighting for all of the bills I sponsor until session ends, but my attention has turned to two bills that have broad support in both houses and on both sides of the aisle. With only a few days left, I think we need to really zero in on where we can build consensus and make a strong case to leadership,” said Finch.

One bill Finch is pushing would prevent student performance on standardized state assessments from impacting teacher evaluations.

“The case we’ve made for years is that effective instruction can’t really be measured by how kids perform on a series of grueling, lengthy exams that make the New York State Bar Exam seem like a quick pop quiz. We want teachers to teach based on a balanced, thoughtful curriculum. We don’t want to incentivize them to be laser-focused on teaching to tests written by bureaucrats. This is good for teachers, it’s good for kids, and it’s what parents want,” said Finch.

Finch say the bill has broad support but is being held up by legislative leaders as a bargaining chip to gain concessions concerning unrelated legislation.

“The practice of grouping unrelated bills together and daring leaders on the other side of the aisle to pass everything or pass nothing is just not what New Yorkers actually want out of their government. Instead of using our kids as political leverage, let’s get this done if we all agree it’s the right thing to do. There’s no reason this has to be tied to criminal justice reform, sales taxes or charter schools. If we can build consensus on an issue, we should bring it to the floor,” said Finch.

Another measure Finch is prioritizing during the final days of session would implement a new state program that would provide municipalities yearly, predictable allocations to revitalize their water and sewer infrastructure. It is mirrored after the popular Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS), a formula-based initiative that provides local communities across New York with needed state aid to revitalize municipal roads, bridges and culverts.

“Particularly in the Finger Lakes, we know how important safe, clean drinking water is. Local governments need more help from the state to upgrade aging pipes and revitalize their wastewater systems,” Finch said.

Finch says the bill passed the state Senate with nearly unanimous support and has sponsors on both sides of the aisle in the Assembly.

“There’s no reason we can’t get this done. I think it’s easy for people to ignore all infrastructure problems until they become a catastrophe. That’s all the more true when the problem is underground. I’m urging my colleagues to join me in prioritizing this and getting this done before Wednesday,” said Finch.