In my third year as the Assembly chair of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources, I’m working to advance a comprehensive agenda this legislative session that takes on the issues facing our rural communities statewide and builds back our rural upstate stronger than ever.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic our rural communities have faced chronic underfunding, a lack of high-speed broadband access, short-staffed hospitals, and limited access to health care. That’s why with this year’s potential budget shortfall I am continuing to advocate on behalf of rural New York to secure more federal funding for our communities through the proposed $50 billion in flexible grant aid in the Rebuild Rural America Act. This funding is necessary to help our schools, boost our local employment, and ensure that local governments can provide the essential services we need. Here’s my letter to Senator Schumer.
In addition, one of the major restrictions on quality of life in rural areas is our access to high-speed broadband. Now, this long-standing need has been thrown into the spotlight as many doctor’s offices turned to telehealth appointments and schools and workplaces have gone remote to protect public health. As the chair of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources, I have formally requested for this year’s budget to include funding to pass a comprehensive broadband study, which would help secure accessible high-speed internet and broadband for all New Yorkers.
Those of us who have lived our lives in rural areas know how difficult accessing healthcare can be. Limited access to emergency services has been highlighted by this past year’s difficulties. As part of this year’s Rural Resources Agenda, establishing the New York State Rural Ambulance Services Task Force remains my top priority. This initiative will identify long-term solutions to the unique challenges posed to our rural ambulance services.
From agriculture to tourism, our rural communities have always been an integral part of our state’s success. New York’s COVID-19 recovery efforts must recognize that our region provides invaluable resources and industries that will be key to building a brighter future for our entire state.