‘09 Session Presents Small Successes, Steps in Right Direction

June 23, 2009

When I think back about this year’s session, I have mixed feelings about what was accomplished. While there are serious issues that still need to be addressed next session, we were able to take small strides towards reforming New York state. We were able to pass a number of substantive bills that will both make New York safer for our families and will help preserve the future prosperity of our state. The following are a few examples of legislation passed this session:

  • A.1242-B – Allows visitors to the state sex offender Web site to register for e-mail notification when a sex offender moves into their neighborhood. This has also passed the Senate and will hopefully soon be signed into law by the governor;
  • A.8568-B – Bans text messaging while driving, making our streets safer;
  • A.6051-A – Allows volunteer firefighters to operate fire trucks in their official job duties without a commercial driver’s license;
  • A.8901-A – Enacts the Green Jobs-Green New York Act of 2009, which promotes energy efficiency, energy conservation and the installation of clean energy technologies, to reduce energy consumption and costs, reduce greenhouse emissions, support sustainable community development and to create green job opportunities; and

We also were able to pass Assembly Bill A.8501 which will empower citizens, local officials and counties to reorganize and consolidate resources and streamline processes. As a matter of fact, the towns of Homer and Scott in Cortland County are considering a consolidation plan at this very moment and it is estimated that local tax bills could be cut by as much as two thirds.

I am disappointed by another year of missed opportunities and misplaced priorities. We are living through a time of recession and instead of passing legislation to ease the financial burden facing New Yorkers, political differences have prevented such advancements from occurring.

The Senate’s stalemate may have overshadowed the usual partisan politics we deal with in the Assembly, but two glaring omissions come to mind when I think about potential solutions to New York’s economic woes. First, we need to cut spending as outlined in Assembly Bill A8975, which would have capped state spending to the average rate of inflation for the previous three years.

It’s quite obvious that New York’s government is out of control when it comes to taking taxpayer money, overspending, and then further increasing the tax bill. My colleagues and I have long supported a more conservative approach toward governing our state – you cannot continually spend beyond your means without sacrificing your future financial security.

The second issue goes hand-in-hand with overspending. New York’s government loves to increase taxes to cover up its financial shortfalls. The people of New York have struggled and can no longer afford to pay for the government’s capricious spending habits. Our enormous tax property bills are just one major example of a larger, more disturbing trend that must be addressed. However, my conference’s Property Taxpayer Protection Act would have gone to great lengths to easing the financial burden property owners are saddled with. Unfortunately, partisan politics once again came between the people of New York and substantive tax relief.

I will continue to work to hold Albany accountable and bring about the financial and ethical reforms that we need to make government work for the people of New York. Our bloated state budget continues to grow and it is essential that we come to an immediate solution to this problem. While we made small strides this year, it is my hope that next year we will be able to come together for the betterment of New York as a whole.