There is no doubt New Yorkers are overburdened with property taxes and that reform of this local tax is a top priority. In the coming months property owners who qualify for the STAR program and the Enhanced STAR program will receive rebate checks to help address their property tax burden.
The New York Senate has finished work in Albany and, all in all, 2006 was a productive session, building on the success of 2005. After passing the second on-time budget earlier in the year, we were able to use the rest of session to provide property tax relief, to promote Medicaid fraud prevention and to strengthen anti-crime laws.That said, some of the agreements reached and solutions adopted were only partial steps toward real resolution.
Last year, as part of the first on-time budget in 20 years, we passed a cap on the local component of Medicaid. This was an important first step in efforts both to control spending on the nation's most expensive Medicaid program and to help counties reign in out-of-control property taxes.With this important step behind us, it was my hope that this year the Legislature would reign in fraud and misuse of Medicaid dollars. New York currently spends about $45 billion for Medicaid a year on some 4.2 million recipients.
Last week I sat down with members of the New York State Public Service Commission, along with other Upstate New York legislators, to receive a briefing on the New York Regional Interconnect power line project -- a project I strongly oppose.I was relieved that the PSC seemed receptive to our input, and that the State would conduct public hearings as part of the process considering NYRI’s application.Most of all I was pleased to look around the table and see legislators from both parties participating in the meeting, which was organized by Assembly Energy Chair Pa
Senate Minority Leader David Paterson has appointed state Senator David J. Valesky (D-Oneida) to the Temporary Commission on the future of New York State Power Programs for Economic Development -- a task force set up to examine the effectiveness of programs intended to make energy more affordable for manufacturers and other businesses."The power programs we will examine were created to foster economic development and to save jobs -- good-paying manufacturing jobs that helped build the upstate economy," said Sen. Valesky.
With this legislation the Senate took important steps to deal with the energy crisis, capping our state sales tax on gasoline to reduce costs today and enacting policies that will help reduce dependency on foreign oil tomorrow.While I am pleased again to support a cap on the gas tax, a measure the Senate also passed last fall, I am particularly pleased that the legislation we passed today included a tax credit to encourage the use of biodiesel in home heating fuel, an idea I proposed last fall.The increased use of biodiesel will not only help reduce toxic emissions, it will
Right now, thanks to the state’s Freedom of Information Laws, everyday citizens can request to see most of the documents produced by state agencies. But because of a double standard in New York’s FOIL statutes, the same is not true of documents produced by the Legislature.
Today, thousands of New Yorkers representing more than 30 organizations will travel to Albany to rally on the 2006 Reform New York Day of Action. I see this day as an opportunity to measure what the reform movement has accomplished in recent years, and to consider how much work there is left to do.As someone who ran for office on a reform platform, people often come up to me and ask how I think the reform movement is doing.
The reform movement scored a major victory this past week on behalf of all state taxpayers, by helping to lift the veil of secrecy on member items and adding more openness to the budget process.I was pleased to stand with my colleagues in the Senate as we demanded changes and used the power of our votes to improve transparency .In recent years, the member item process had grown increasingly secretive.
Senator Valesky recently participated in the Great New York Read Aloud at E.R. Andrews Elementary School in Morrisville. The Senator read stories to Mrs. Morley's 2nd grade class and Ms. Yacavone's kindergarten class.
For the second year in a row, the people of New York have a budget before the April 1st deadline, and for the second year in a row our state is closer to having a Legislature that is more open and more responsive. The budget I voted to adopt is not just on-time, it is also a strong budget that provides property tax relief, improves school funding and protects higher education.This budget reduces the property tax burden in several ways. First and foremost, the budget includes $805 million in property tax rebates for home owners.
Recognizing his commitment to education, Senator David J. Valesky (D-Oneida) was honored as the "Freshman Legislator of the Year" on March 5th at the New York School Board Association’s annual legislative conference."When I took office, I made my support of public education a top priority. I believe sound education is a foundation not just for individual success, but for the economic prosperity of the entire community," said Sen. Valesky.
The Governor’s proposed budget holds one item in particular that surprised and angered many snowmobilers. Within the budget is a plan to take $2.5 million out of the snowmobile trail fund and put it into the general fund. As the legislature considers the budget, there are compelling economic reasons why we need to rethink the proposed shift of funds.Today, snowmobiling is much more than just a recreational activity. It is a big business in our state. There are more than 169,000 snowmobiles registered in New York.
It seems every few weeks we hear another heartbreaking story about how a drunk driver has taken the life of an innocent victim in our area. These sad tales have touched so many members of our community, from the teenagers in Cicero to the WSYR family and their loyal listeners.
Today, Senator David J. Valesky (D-Oneida) called on the Governor and the state legislature to use the 2006 legislative session to address, once and for all, the state's school funding crisis. The Senator made his remarks a week after the Governor proposed his latest budget -- a budget that further illustrates the state's broken school aid funding system."Last week, the Governor unveiled a budget that he said holds a 'record increase' in school funding," said Sen. Valesky.
Senator Valesky gave the following speech on January 14, 2006 at Morrisville State College. The Senator's briefing on Agriculture was part of a symposium on reclaiming fallow land using livestock as a tool for change and understanding the relationships between the soil seed bank, animal impact, grazing management and the opportunities for landowners and farmers to work together.Thanks for that welcome. And, of course, thank you President Cross for your kind words. It is always a pleasure to be here with you at Morrisville State College.
State Senator David Valesky has introduced legislation (S. 6024) that would disclose the hidden costs of State and local municipal bond sales, which often amount to millions of taxpayers’ dollars.Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said "I applaud Senator Valesky for shining a light on an area of financing that has had little, if any, scrutiny. Greater transparency in these transactions can only serve to improve the accountability of government."State Comptroller Alan Hevesi said "I commend Senator Valesky for turning his attention toward reforming the State’s debt practices.
Senator David Valesky checked out a book recently at the Weedsport Library, which is now using the Polaris integrated library system. Senator Valeskysecured a New York State grant in the amount of $6,400 that enabledthe Finger Lakes Library system to purchase software for the new system.The new system, which replaces afifteen-year-old Dynix system,will allow for information to be shared between the libraries in the five county Finger Lakes Library system.