By Michael H. Ranzenhofer
With the 2012 Legislative Session drawn to a close, one thing is clear: the gridlock and dysfunction that once characterized New York State government are now things of the past. For the second consecutive year, we’ve worked together in a bipartisan way with Governor Cuomo to keep New York moving in a new, stronger and more positive direction.
In both 2011 and 2012, we enacted two on-time State Budgets which cut overall spending, included no new taxes or fees and helped to create jobs. Just this year, we also approved new pension reforms and Medicaid takeover initiatives that will provide savings to taxpayers and local governments. In addition, we’ve also successfully enacted important new laws to address the issues of cyber bullying, prescription drug abuse and tax relief.
Cyber bullying is a 21st century problem that is still being addressed with statutes from the 20th century, and that is why it was so critical to revise our approach to this issue. The new cyber bullying law clarifies the definitions of bullying and cyber bullying and provides school districts with more clearly developed policies, guidelines and procedures. This new law will help crack down on this serious problem facing our youth.
Prescription drug abuse is another grave issue that calls for action. According to the Office of National Drug Control, the abuse of prescription medicine is the fastest-growing drug problem – 1 in 20 people over the age of 11 reported using prescription painkillers for non-medical purposes in 2010.
The new I-STOP law will change the way prescription drugs are monitored and distributed by creating a modernized program for health care professionals to view patients’ controlled substance histories, requiring e-prescribing to ensure effective monitoring and improving educational programs. This law will help save lives, improve public safety and make New York a national leader in combating prescription drug abuse.
These new laws can be added to the 2011 Legislative Session’s record of providing real tax relief. The historic 2% property tax cap we passed last year is already working, helping to hold down tax increases for homeowners. In fact, the tax cap has already saved school property taxpayers over $13.9 million in the 61st Senate District. Last December’s $3.3 billion middle-class tax cut is also working to keep more money in the wallets and purses of 4.4 million hardworking New Yorkers.
What a difference two years can make! While we’ve clearly come a long way, there is still much more work ahead, more challenges to overcome and more progress to be made. With this in mind, you can be assured that I will continue working for you, your family and our community each and every day.
Senator Ranzenhofer's Monthly Column appeared in the Amherst, Clarence and Ken-Ton Bee on Wednesday, July 18, 2012.