Katz Shares First Impressions Of Albany, State Budget & Legislative Efforts

A Legislative Column from Assemblyman Steve Katz (R,I-Yorktown)
February 25, 2011
As your new Assemblyman, it is very important to me that constituents are aware of legislative and budgetary actions in Albany, as well as my efforts to assist them on local projects and concerns. Please know that I am honored to be representing this district and take my responsibility seriously. I am always available to meet with constituents and listen to their concerns so that I can better represent the residents, farms, businesses, and local governments of Dutchess, Putnam, and Westchester counties in our state Capitol.

To deliver on that goal, during my first two months in office, I have personally met with every local official, school superintendent, and chamber of commerce in each of the seven towns within the 99th Assembly District, as well as scores of local organizations, community groups, and not-for-profits. These personal meetings are key, not only to learn more specifics on the local concerns facing our community, but to assist in fighting for taxpayers.

Some of the projects I have been working on include a massive federal mandate, called MS4, which requires local governments to build storm water systems for the Croton Watershed, a source of roughly 10 percent of New York City’s drinking water. The estimated cost to our communities is $500 million and, quite frankly, considering the economy and other onerous costs like the MTA payroll tax, I share the concern of local governments on whether now is the appropriate time for local taxpayers to foot the bill for this ambitious project.

Another local project involves improving our infrastructure. Just last week, I met with representatives from the JV mall to discuss their expansion goals for more local jobs. To support growth in our communities, we must ensure that our existing local roadways can meet the new demands. Furthermore, at the request of constituents, I have helped make our roads safer by working with local governments to install speed bumps and expand lanes in our neighborhoods.

One of the biggest projects I have been working on is helping to create more long-term jobs for our communities. Having met with every chamber of commerce, I am developing legislation that will help in moving Albany out of the way, allowing our businesses to grow and expand, creating the jobs that we need.

Perhaps most importantly, I have worked at a feverish pace to meet with constituents, listen to them, and let them know I am here to help. One of the concerns I heard last fall was that people wanted greater access to their officials. Addressing this concern, I have announced a yearlong schedule of Mobile Office Hours in each of the seven towns in the district where residents can simply walk in and have a chat with me. I also held two Town Hall meetings, and will continue to hold these meetings throughout the year so that residents can share their concerns as well as hear from me personally regarding my impressions of legislation in Albany and other big-picture issues. Both the Town Hall meetings and Mobile Office Hours are held afternoons and evenings and on weekends because I know how busy most residents are – and I want to be available when you are.

In Albany, we have heard our new governor’s plan to reform our state. Although my experience working with the governor has been brief, I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to personally meet with him a few times already this year. I value his efforts to meet with me and hear my concerns about state spending, passing a responsible, timely budget, lifting local mandates, rescinding the MTA payroll tax, and helping ease the burden on taxpayers. I feel confident that the governor shares my vision for what New York State can be again – a true Empire State. I am very excited about working together with him and my colleagues in both chambers to deliver positive, meaningful, and common-sense change that betters our state.

To continue this conversation, I hope residents will share their thoughts, ideas, suggestions and concerns with me. You can call my temporary district office in Brewster at 845-279-5301, my legislative office in Albany at 518-455-5793, or e-mail me at katzs@assembly.state.ny.us to be put on my monthly e-newsletter list. You also can become a fan on my Facebook page for daily updates, or attend one of my upcoming local events, Mobile Office Hours, and Town Hall-style meetings.

Although I already have seen how dysfunctional Albany can be, I have faith that with so many new legislators and a new governor on board, the voice of the people will be heard.