After a week of State of the State speeches, New Yorkers need real action to move our state forward. I am ready to work together with the governor and my colleagues to get a fiscally responsible state budget passed. This year’s budget will be unlike any we have seen before, and while now is the time for restraint and prudence, it is also the time to focus on our economy, infrastructure and our schools.
We cannot allow Albany to impose another tax-and-spend, policy-heavy budget on our state. New Yorkers need a simple, clear fiscal plan that will help our businesses, local governments and schools get back on their feet and move forward. For the better part of a year, through no fault of their own, the hardworking people of our state have been shut down and shut out of the discussion about their future in our state. Already over one million people have left New York and, if Albany doesn’t act soon, more will follow.
While I review the governor’s plan and work with my colleagues to oversee the budget process as a member of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, I will be focused on three important priorities for our Western New York community. First, infrastructure projects are needed in order to get our state up and running. Claims that 98 percent of our state has access to broadband internet are simply not true, especially in rural parts of our community. That must be remedied immediately. Our roads, bridges and sewers also need to be modernized. Secondly, our businesses need immediate help. The aid we anticipate coming in from Washington, D.C. must go in large part to helping our local employers before more of our businesses close their doors forever. People need jobs. We need local economies across our state. This is an emergency of the state’s creation, and Albany needs to treat it as such.
And finally, but certainly of extreme importance, are the organizations in our community that make living here truly home. Our schools need help, that’s without doubt. But our local volunteer fire companies are also in dire straits. Because of the shutdown, they were unable to fundraise for the necessary, basic operating capital they need to protect our lives and property during life threatening emergencies and natural disasters. Without them, how will we be protected? The state’s primary obligation is to ensure public safety, and it needs to step up to make things right by including provisions of my legislation to reimburse volunteer fire companies for lost operating aid as part of this year’s budget. I have fought very hard to advocate for our volunteer firefighters over the years, and I will continue doing so to make sure they have a voice during this budget.