James L. Seward's Blog entries

Down Syndrome Awareness Month

October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month and after my urging the governor to recognize this very special event, he has officially designated this Down Syndrome Awareness Month in New York state as well. 

In calling on the governor to make the official proclamation, I stressed the opportunity to increase awareness of Down syndrome and to promote inclusion and acceptance of individuals born with the condition.  I am pleased he accepted the opportunity and issued the statewide proclamation.

October 16, 2009

Steps To Economic Recovery

The governor recently ordered $500 million in across the board cuts to 2009-2010 state agency spending.  The directive focused on each agency’s non-personal service budget; in other words, operating costs outside of salary and benefits.  The targeted expenses include things like travel, printing, vehicles, leases, energy, postage, consultant contracts and equipment.  It is a step in the right direction, but it is only a step.

Each and every elementary school student at some point learns how to read and construct a pie chart.  Well, if we were creating such a chart to illustrate the steps to economic recovery needed in New York, state agency spending cuts would represent only a small sliver. 

October 9, 2009

What's In Your Mailbox?

CLICK HERE to join the fight. 

Over the past few years, at about this time, I have reminded homeowners to check their mailbox for their STAR rebate check.  Unfortunately, this year, no such reminder is needed.  Thanks to the governor and his Democrat colleagues, that check is not in the mail.

October 2, 2009

Special Time For Senior Citizens

New York recently celebrated the state’s first ever Assisted Living Week.  I was fortunate to mark this special occasion by meeting with residents and caregivers at several adult care/assisted living facilities within the 51st district.  These unique facilities are filled with wonderful individuals extremely deserving of this distinctive honor.

September 25, 2009

Cut ACORN From The State Funding Tree

New York State is facing a multi-billion dollar deficit.  Families are making hard choices as they cut back during tough economic times.  Certainly the last thing we should be doing is funding questionable organizations.  That’s why I am joining the growing call to freeze all state funds slated to go to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), its sister organization, the New York Agency for Community Affairs (NYACA) and any other organizations that use state funds to contract with ACORN.

September 18, 2009

Be Prepared

We just recently passed the anniversary of the terrorist attack on our nation on September 11, 2001 and it is important to continue to learn from the tragic event. Since that fateful date we have made great strides in areas of national security and defense.  We have also worked extremely hard at the federal, state and local levels to upgrade our emergency preparedness as we ready ourselves for potential man-made and natural disasters.

Click here for the complete Red Cross Ready plan.

September 11, 2009

Back To School

Summer will soon turn to fall and along with the change of season will come a change in lifestyle for our young people as school bells ring once again.  For many students it is a return to a familiar routine, but for some it is the start of a whole new world.  For all of us, it is a time to think of safety first. According to a news story released in July 2008, 750,000 people illegally pass a school bus every day in the United States.  In New York State alone, approximately 50,000 drivers fail to stop as required by law.  This illegal practice endangers the lives of children trying to get to and from school. 

September 4, 2009

Return To Albany

  In short order I will join my colleagues in state government and return to Albany for a special legislative session.  The agenda, most likely, will be limited to a few housekeeping matters and one extremely difficult bookkeeping task – how to close a $2.1 billion dollar budget gap.

 There are no simple answers to this complex financial problem and a brief special session is merely providing a band-aid to a gushing wound.  Sound, fundamental policy shifts are needed if we are going to stem the bleeding and make a long term recovery.

August 28, 2009

Constitutional Makeover

New York state government is in need of a makeover.  While many positive reforms were approved at the end of the last senate session, much work is left undone.  Elected officials must do their part to institute reform, but the public should also play a role.  That’s why I am sponsoring legislation calling for a state constitutional convention.

August 21, 2009

Rising Cost To Drive

Every New Yorker who drives a car, a truck, a motorcycle, an ATV, or a boat will be paying more as the latest round of massive tax and fee hikes approved by Democrats in Albany takes effect next month.  This time their target is motor vehicle fees, most of which will go up 25 percent for virtually every type of vehicle New Yorkers use every day.

If you drive a car you will pay more to get or renew your license and register the vehicle.  If you own a boat, an ATV or other vehicle, it will cost you more not only to register it, but to transport it as well, as fees on trailers will go up.

August 14, 2009

Course Correction Needed For State Finances

            The New York State Division of the Budget recently released its first quarter update to the state financial plan.  The update includes revised information on state revenues, spending and other financial indicators.  Unfortunately, the report did not include a rainbow and a pot of gold.

August 7, 2009

Summer Time Is Fair Time

 Summer is in full swing and one of the best ways to spend a day or night in upstate New York is enjoying some time at the local county fair.  Young or old, there is nothing better than the enchanting sights along the midway, the lighthearted sound of children laughing with excitement, or the enticing aroma of sausage sandwiches and fried dough.

July 31, 2009

Dairy Crisis Looms

   In our ever evolving world, one thing has not changed: farming remains the number one industry in New York state.  Despite that fact, many of our hard working farmers are being forced out of business, while others are in need of a lifeline to preserve this time honored tradition.

July 24, 2009

Stimulus Setback

A couple of months ago I made a plea for genuine oversight of the federal stimulus dollars flowing into our state.  While the governor’s office did enact a few minor measures, real checks and balances have not been instituted.

July 17, 2009

Impasse Ends With Key Reforms

I am pleased to announce that after a brief hiatus, the new and improved New York State Senate is back in business.  Admittedly the Albany impasse lasted a bit longer than I had expected or hoped, but key reforms are now being enacted that will change the culture in the senate and clear the way for policy changes that will mean a great deal to upstate New York.

Since the start of the year the New York City political bosses ran the show in Albany and the results have not been good for upstate New York. 

July 10, 2009

Stay Afloat On New York's Waterways

With summer here and long warm days ahead many people will be headed out on our numerous bodies of water to enjoy a day of boating.  Whether it is a lazy day on a sail boat, an adventure in a canoe or an exhilarating afternoon water skiing there is no better place to enjoy yourself than on the waterways of upstate New York.  Certainly though, many things should be considered before you set out.

July 3, 2009

No More Drama

After three weeks of inactivity, high theater and political dueling, the state senate needs to get back to the people’s business.  Many important bills affecting local governments, businesses and residents of New York state await action and a long-term solution to the impasse must be reached.

June 26, 2009

Crack A Book This Summer

The school year is winding down and children across the state are on the cusp of summer vacation.  While this is certainly a time to enjoy the outdoors, family vacations and a few lazy days, I hope that families will take some time to stop by the local library and take part in the New York Statewide Summer Reading Program.

June 19, 2009

Time Is Now For Real Reform

Recent events in Albany have sparked a new day of reform that will mean a great deal for the residents of New York state.  The changes came amidst a dramatic, historic week at the Capitol, and the results will mean a more open, transparent government that will provide equitable representation for all New Yorkers.

June 12, 2009

TEA Time In New York

For those of you who have been following state politics recently you are almost certainly aware of the new state budget enacted at the beginning of April.  I voted against this plan for several reasons.  It taxes too much, fails to create much needed upstate jobs and it includes record state spending.  These are among the reasons why New York is struggling right now with deep economic and fiscal issues.  I believe, however, that we can turn things around and a new plan, the “Taxpayer Empowerment Act” (TEA) is the start.

June 5, 2009
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