This year, our state faced some unprecedented challenges and changes. Coupled with the financial meltdown on Wall Street and resulting recession, New Yorkers, especially in Western New York, are particularly feeling the burn of these tough times. However, despite this, many of my colleagues have gone on “summer vacation” and left the people of our state. It is time for lawmakers to get serious and return to Albany.
Given our economy and the tough times we have ahead - thanks to a record-breaking state budget, spending increases and tax hikes - I have tried very hard this summer to address the specific needs of our rural communities and stay positive by hosting free, fun and informative programs, using existing state resources, such as a boating safety course. This event was a success and I would like to thank the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and New York State Department of Parks and Recreation for their assistance.
Another gratifying event is my second annual Patriot Trip, which takes veterans from our area to Washington, D.C. to tour our nation’s capitol and see the World War II, Korean, Vietnam, and Iwo Jima monuments, Lincoln Memorial, and Arlington National Cemetery. Last year’s trip was one of the most special and touching experiences of my life and I am thrilled that Congressman Lee has partnered with me to make this year’s trip even better.
But this summer has not been all fun: we are in serious times and there is serious business to undertake. In response to the tornado which tore through communities like Corfu, I brought the Governor to witness the damage so that, working together, we could call on the federal government to provide immediate emergency aid.
While I am thrilled to have the Governor’s partnership on this issue, I have taken a stand against some other proposals that he supports, which will hurt our Western New York region. For example, the Governor signed into law a 2 percent tax on all utility bills of residents and businesses in our state. I know that many families and especially seniors are struggling to pay their utility bills already. That’s why I took the bull by the horns and drafted legislation that will repeal this ridiculous tax hike.
I also disagree with the Governor’s choice to hand out $200 cash, without any strings or controls attached to ensure that children are the ones benefiting from the money, per child to every parent on welfare for “school supplies,” while our hard-working families are struggling to pay for their basic needs. I had encouraged the Governor to use $1 billion of the stimulus dollars to reinstate the property tax rebate checks – after all, welfare benefits were already increased by 10 percent. Our farmers, especially dairy farmers, are on the brink of closure due to Albany’s inaction. Something is wrong with this system and that’s why I am calling on my colleagues to immediately return to Albany. We can’t afford to wait any longer…we must return to Albany to finish the people’s business.