Direction of Legislative Year Should Focus on Job Development

The Governor gave his annual State of the State address on Jan. 9 in Albany. This speech outlined the Executive's agenda. While there were many things I was glad to hear the Governor mention, the majority of our efforts should focus on creating jobs rather than gun control and campaign finance.

We’ve made great strides as a state to control spending. We should build on these efforts to create more economic opportunity in our region. I was pleased to hear Upstate New York discussed in his speech and no new taxes proposed. I support providing resources to turn research into jobs for our region and build on the progress we've made in recent years. Linking community colleges with employers and providing training will, hopefully, create more skilled workers for the manufacturers we have here.

Some of the proposals on gun control may go too far, however, to limit our Second Amendment rights. New York already has some of the strongest gun control laws in the nation. We already ban assault weapons and have background checks in place. We have to be careful when we pass legislation that we're passing laws that will address some of the violent tragedies we've experienced and not just passing gun control laws that limit our right to bear arms. I support strengthening our public and school safety, as well as access to mental health services, if these changes can help prevent a tragedy like what happened in Connecticut and Webster again.

At the same time the governor is suggesting we limit our Second Amendment rights, he also proposes we limit our First Amendment rights with publicly financed campaigns. When it comes to campaign finance, I am in favor of greater disclosure but do not support publicly financed campaigns. All Americans have the right to expressly give to a political cause or party as part of our First Amendment rights. I'll be interested in what he has to say but am hesitant about any type of proposal that would restrain speech.

He also talked about rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy. I think all of us--Upstate and Downstate--want to help New York State rebuild from that disaster. I'm hopeful the federal government will come through with more disaster relief, as Sandy will play a role in our state budget decisions this year.

I was glad to see plans for a tourism and marketing push for our region. I have been an advocate for our region's assets since taking office. I sponsor legislation that would create the "I love NY outdoors" program. It would require the state to develop a marketing strategy that would promote New York as a premiere destination for hunting and fishing. This also would help the ancillary businesses such as restaurants, retail, bait shops, and lodging facilities. We have many natural assets to attract more tourists. I also like the idea of promoting our homegrown products like wine and Greek yogurt. I look forward to learning more about what this means for our region.

Though the governor did not mention this in his speech, he released an outline of priorities, which included strengthening our laws against synthetic marijuana. Last year, I introduced legislation that influenced the state's policies on this for the public's protection. I plan to introduce additional legislation that will toughen laws and increase penalties. I look forward to working with people in the district to help our voices be heard in Albany so we can see this come to pass.

With the budget process rapidly approaching, I plan on working to ensure our schools receive their fair share of aid. He mentioned a differentiated plan for high-needs districts, and I look forward to learning more of what this means in terms of funding for our schools. I hope this will be the year school aid is divided more equitably--something I and many have fought for a long time. There is much, however, in his education agenda that deserves careful review, and I look forward to learning more in the upcoming days and weeks. I look forward to working to make this a productive session.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office. My office can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at or by calling (315) 598-5185. You also may find me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.