A 2023 Christmas Wish List

Legislative Column by Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush (R,C-Black River)

Christmas is right around the corner, and I hope that you and your families are taking advantage of all the great holiday events happening in the North Country and Mohawk Valley. With Christmas comes a new year, and with a new year comes a new legislative session. The 2023 Legislative Session is set to begin on Jan. 4, and our Republican conference will have grown by at least five seats when we reconvene.

While children around the world will be asking Santa Claus for new bikes, the latest edition of a video game or simply good health in the year to come, this year for Christmas and beyond the best thing I could ask for is an Albany that answers directly to the concerns of New Yorkers. That’s an Albany which practices fiscal restraint in the budget process, addresses the scourge in crime across our state, and responds to our local concerns.

For years, Majority lawmakers in Albany have passed bloated and out-of-touch state budgets. These budgets mirror the work of the Grinch, stealing your hard-earned wages through taxation to pay for programs that the public would never support if the process were fully transparent. Look no further than just the past five years. The 2017-18 Enacted State Budget totaled $152.9 billion, while the enacted budget for 2022-23 topped $220 billion. This is an increase in $70 billion of spending in just five years, a state budget that is larger than that of Florida and Texas’ combined. New Yorkers are still under the thumb of record inflation, our state budget in the new year must reflect the fiscal struggles everyone is facing and be responsible with taxpayer dollars.

Between our growing Minority conference and recent polling, it is undeniable that New Yorkers want us to address crime and public safety in 2023. We have seen spikes in violent crime in all of our major cities, in no small part due to Majority’s reckless bail reform bill from 2019. New York is the only state in the county that does not allow for judicial discretion, this is one of the first things we must reverse if we are to earnestly fix our broken criminal justice system. Our judges must act as a last line of defense in assessing a criminal’s record and the threat they may pose to a community. Up to now, Albany Majority lawmakers have buried their head in the sand on this critical issue, even going as far as saying the crime wave is a “Minority conspiracy.” Don’t buy into this media spin, your eyes are not lying to you. Our criminal justice system must be reshaped to stop repeat offenders all across our state. It’s past time we put crime victims and their families ahead of the wish lists of criminals.

Finally, there are plenty of local items on this year’s wish list. Just recently we saw a devastating fire at the Camden Public Works Department. I applaud all the first responders who helped that day of the fire, and I am working with Sen. Griffo to provide assistance from the state level. We also are seeing the governor and SUNY Board of Trustees trying to move the College of Nanoscale Science at Engineering (CNSE) out of Oneida County and back to Albany. This is a move we will fight in the budget process, CNSE should remain right here in the same town of Marcy as the ‘Wolfspeed’ semiconductor fab. The program could provide a pipeline of staffing for the fab, which will be amongst the best in the world. These students will lead us into this next phase of manufacturing, so keeping this facility in our district is near the top of my wish list.

Additionally, we have the biomass facility at Fort Drum coming under scrutiny by Albany Majority’s radical climate agenda. My bipartisan bill with Sen. Ritchie will protect the facility by making sure ‘biomass’ is considered renewable under the Majority’s definition. Not only is this important for maintaining jobs at the plant, but it is a matter of national security as it provides power for the brave men and women at Fort Drum.

These are just a few things atop my Christmas wish list this year. I am ready to work with anyone in Albany that will further these projects and help advance the interests of our region.

What are you asking from Santa this year? Wishing all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. With any questions, please feel free to reach out to my office at 315-493-3909 or email me at blankenbushk@nyassembly.gov.