If thereís one thing of which I am certain, itís that you can never go at it alone during tough times. The last several years have been tough for many of us, and since seeking office in the Assembly, it has always been my desire to work with each of you to improve our economy and state.
While things arenít quite what they were before the economic downturn, I think we are on our way to a brighter future. In many ways, we have laid a foundation that has made our government more functional and more able to address the problems that face us.
My door has always been open to my constituents, because I know that being able to pull up a chair and talk about issues is the way to resolve problems and develop real solutions to our stateís biggest troubles. Iíve brought this approach to Albany when I deal with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Itís the open discourse and mutual respect that has moved Albany out of years of deadlock and dysfunction.
In my two years as your representative in the Assembly, I have helped pass two on-time budgets, closed a $13.5 billion budget deficit and secured the lowest income tax rate for working families in nearly 60 years. Albany has had a difficult lesson to learn about budgeting and spending Ė itís the same fiscal discipline that our parents taught us, and now weíre beginning to see its positive benefits.
While in Albany, Iíve fought for and successfully helped to sell the story of the North Country and how it plays a critical role in our stateís economic recovery. Northern New York, abundant in natural resources, human capital and international trade opportunities, is currently experiencing small city and rural economic recovery. We invested here with over $103 million in economic development, $45.5 million to put people back to work fixing crumbling roads and bridges, and made sure our chief economic sector, agriculture, was enriched with nearly $22 million.
Itís always been clear to me that the kind of simple Ďcommon-sense solutionsí we use upstate are exactly what Albany needed, and the truth is itís working. Iíve worked with my colleagues to simplify, consolidate and reform government to make sure itís serving you, not itself.
There have been some tough issues on the agenda in Albany, and Iíve never backed down from them. Instead, Iíve set up roundtable discussions and solicited your opinions on the big issues like the minimum wage increase and unfunded mandate relief, among others. Through these discussions, weíve always been on the same page Ė working together to keep New Yorkers in jobs and lowering your cost of living.
To keep New York moving forward on this new and positive path, we need to keep fighting for more of what each hardworking family needs Ė more jobs and more affordable communities. Thatís why I havenít given up on unfunded mandate relief to cut property taxes for good, lifting the job-killing regulations that drive job creators away from our state and fighting for a fairer school aid formula so that our children have a shot at a quality education like their peers in wealthy downstate suburbs.
In the end, I think we know that fighting for pocketbook and wallet issues are ultimately about fighting for a better future for our families and children. Through tough times or even times of abundance, I am honored to serve you and to continue to bring our practical solutions to Albany.
If you have any ideas or suggestions on how we can help working families in New York, please call me at 493-3909 or e-mail me at email@example.com. Remember that my door is open to you, so stop by, pull up a chair and letís talk.