Fitzpatrick Unveils Legislative Priorities

Announces ‘Excelsior 2005’ for growth and reform in the Empire State

Assemblyman Michael J. Fitzpatrick (R,C,I–Smithtown) joined Assembly Minority Leader Charles H. Nesbitt and their Assembly Minoritiy colleagues today to announce a new action plan to reinvigorate the state’s economy, reform state government, protect New Yorkers, improve the education system and enrich the quality for New Yorkers.

"Excelsior 2005" is the list of legislative priorities for the Assembly Minority conference in the coming year. The plan is the conference’s most comprehensive agenda to date, building on last year’s Roadmap to Renewal and 2003’s NY First plans.

"In Excelsior 2005, we have a vision for the future of New York state and a comprehensive approach to achieve that vision," said Fitzpatrick. "While New York faces many challenges this year, I believe our proposals provide reforms and initiatives critical to our being able to meet those challenges."

Leader Nesbitt (R,C,I–Albion) concurred: "Our first order of business will be to reform the way state government conducts business. Beyond that, our comprehensive package of proposals will help keep our residents safer at home and in the communities we share, provide quality educational opportunities for all of our children, make clear that the Empire State is, once again, "open for business," and ensure that every New Yorker who wants a job has one."

Excelsior, Latin for "ever upward," was adopted as the state’s motto in 1778. Excelsior 2005 is a comprehensive package that combines new ideas and improves and expands existing programs to make New York state a better place to live, work and do business.

The plan contains five areas of focus and addresses the most important needs of New Yorkers:

Less intrusive, more efficient government – proposals in this section aim to make state government more open, responsive and efficient; end 20 years of late state budgets; reduce the costs of government regulation; shrink state debt; relieve taxes; encourage inter-municipal cooperation; and lay a foundation for redistricting reform. The Assembly Minority conference also proposes comprehensive mandate relief, including a gradual state takeover of all local Medicaid costs. Also included are initiatives to make state public authorities operate more efficiently, and those that encourage participation in the election process and increase ethics and government credibility.

"The Assembly cannot properly address such issues as the economy, education or crime until we have our own house in order. Our proposed reforms will make New York government more open and accountable while restoring public confidence in our ability to get the job done," Assemblyman Fitzpatrick said.

Opportunities for work and prosperity – includes numerous proposals to encourage job growth by reducing the costs of energy, taxes and regulations. This section also includes several proactive programs to encourage growth in small business, manufacturing and agriculture with grants, tax credits and regulatory reforms. The plan also supports comprehensive workers’ compensation reform, expansion of New York’s successful Empire Zone program, and innovative new tourism initiatives.

"As the ranking minority member of the Assembly Committee on Tourism and a new member of the Small Business Committee, I am keenly aware how important both tourism and small businesses are to the economy of Long Island," said Fitzpatrick. "The business-friendly initiatives in Excelsior 2005 will create an atmosphere conducive to economic growth by helping manufacturers and small businesses thrive."

Ensuring a quality education for our children – these proposals recognize the critical role education plays in New York’s future. The plan reinforces the Assembly Minority conference’s commitment to adequate operating aid, parental involvement in education, increased financial oversight of schools, recognition of exceptional students and teachers, and the best use of education dollars. The plan would also prohibit new, unnecessary mandates on schools, streamline district paperwork and reporting requirements, increase opportunities and funding for programs that expose children to computers, and support additional enrichment programs. Also included are ideas to ensure that college graduates will meet the high-tech needs of employers today and in the future, as well as keep New York students safe from hazing and bullying.

"Our future depends on the ability of our children to receive a quality education in a safe environment," noted Fitzpatrick. "We must insist on high standards from our children, but also realize that can only be achieved in schools that work. Our plan calls for equitable operating aid and for rewarding innovation to make sure schools have the resources they need to properly educate our children."

Safer Communities – these bold anti-crime measures would keep our roads safe, protect New Yorkers from terrorism, reduce urban crime and combat drugs. The plan also includes "zero tolerance" measures to protect women and children from violent sexual attacks.

"New York is one of the safest large states in the nation, but there is more work to be done. Our plans for safer communities would bolster New York’s efforts against terrorism, sexual assault, gang activity and substance abuse, including DWI," noted Fitzpatrick.

Protecting our quality of life – includes a series of programs targeted at enhancing availability and affordability of housing, health care and child care, and new programs and benefits for active duty National Guard members, veterans and immigrants.

"Maintaining a high quality of life for our residents is a vital part of our job in the Legislature," declared Fitzpatrick. "Our agenda will build upon the Empire State’s many strengths and, at the same time, provide the necessary reforms to live up to our state motto."