Americans are known for volunteering. In fact we’re coming off a week when the nation observed National Volunteer Week in tribute to all of the many millions of citizens throughout our communities, of every age and from all walks of life, who make such a difference with their willingness to devote time, energy and sacrifice to the lives and needs of others.
It’s a recognition, however, that shouldn’t – and fortunately doesn’t – end after just one week.
We’re seeing report after report deliver the message that the condition of local roads and bridges is critical, and getting worse.
That's why local highway superintendents from across New York State put on their traditional orange t-shirts and travelled to Albany this week and, today, joined me and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano to call for a greater state commitment to our local transportation infrastructure.
On the economic and fiscal reform fronts, several of Governor Cuomo's key 2014-15 state budget proposals are in step with my own overriding priorities: upstate economic growth and community development, and overall state fiscal reform.
In particular, I've long promoted tax and regulatory relief as one way to spark a revitalization of Upstate New York’s manufacturing sector. As the governor previously announced, his proposed budget includes a series of tax cuts aimed at upstate manufacturers and pledges a focus on regulatory reform.
The Cuomo administration can go ahead and keep on claiming it's fiscally necessary for New York in the long run to shut down inpatient services at the Elmira Psychiatric Center (Elmira PC) and close the Monterey Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility, but it’s important that we continue to let Governor Cuomo know that these moves don't make any fiscal common sense at all.
In fact, it appears hard to improve upon the Elmira PC’s record of fiscal responsibility. The same holds true for Monterey.
On the same day that the Washington D.C.-based Tax Foundation called New York State’s business tax climate the worst in the nation, the state Senate Majority Coalition held a public hearing at Corning Community College and heard the same message from local and statewide business leaders and economic development officials: New York State is overtaxed, overregulated and too costly.
Talk about getting knocked around every which way but loose.
First it was the July 10th announcement by the Cuomo administration that within the next year it was planning to shut down inpatient services at the Elmira Psychiatric Center.
That was followed a few weeks later by a second Cuomo administration announcement, this one on July 26th, that 2014 would also bring the closing of the Monterey Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility in Schuyler County.
Over the past few weeks in my weekly column "From the Capitol," I've been looking ahead at a few of the challenges that I'll be focusing on heading into a new legislative session in 2014.
I opened this series of columns two weeks ago by putting a spotlight on where I believe we need to begin: revitalizing upstate manufacturing. Read my August 19th column, "Agenda 2014: Upstate manufacturing."
The importance of summer reading just can’t be understated. That’s exactly why my Senate colleagues and I are so grateful this summer to have the opportunity to team up with the New York State Library and public libraries statewide, including so many throughout the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions, to promote a new, online summer reading program called “Dig Into Reading.”
It may not be getting the widespread public notice it deserves, but we've just taken a big step toward delivering long-awaited and badly needed property tax relief for New York State's farmers.
That's because both houses of the Legislature have unanimously approved legislation I co-sponsor to place a 2% cap on annual agricultural land assessment increases.
This legislation was a cornerstone of “Grown in New York,” a comprehensive economic development strategy for New York State agriculture that I unveiled with my Senate Republican colleagues earlier this year.
The buzz around New York government over the past few weeks has been about New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and top members of his cabinet touring upstate New York touting that they’re ready to go nationwide with this message: Tax-Free New York!
But maybe we should hold on before we go turning up the volume on that one.
It’s a thought that comes to mind every time there’s another natural disaster, another emergency, another act of terror like what we saw last week in Boston and in Texas: What would we do without our first responders?
Always among the most powerful images from these terrible events are the photos of firefighters carrying the wounded to safety, first responders rushing toward – not away from – danger, police officers instinctively shielding everyone else from harm.
We saw these images yet again last week in the aftermaths of the Boston Marathon bombings and the fertilizer plant explosion in central Texas. They are images of heroism and they leave us wondering: Where would we turn without these heroes in these times of need?
One of the highlights of the new state budget is the creation of a Hire-a-Vet tax credit to encourage businesses throughout New York to hire returning veterans.
That’s a move that I've strongly supported and co-sponsored over the past year.
It’s an investment in the future of returning veterans and so it’s a true highlight of this year’s state budget.
It’s a tough economy all around, but the impact has been especially hard on veterans returning home during this recession to a weak private-sector economy. Returning servicemen and servicewomen have had a hard time finding work and that’s particularly true for wounded veterans.
Albany, N.Y., March 6—With final negotiations over the 2013-14 New York State budget kicking into high gear over the next two weeks, a group of state legislators, Assemblyman Phil Palmesano and I have joined county and town highway superintendents and other local leaders from across New York to call for increased state support for local roads and bridges.
"New York government needs to stay focused, more than anything else, on taking step after step after step toward long-term fiscal discipline, private-sector economic growth and eliminating the crushing burdens of mandates, regulations and taxes. Let’s get this job done.
"What concerns me above all else – because it deeply concerns the communities and citizens I represent – is what this governor wants to do to help Upstate keep our employers and the jobs they create for our workers, attract new economic opportunities, strengthen our communities and provide the tax, mandate and regulatory relief that’s so desperately needed throughout the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions.
It's always the opening act in New York State's annual legislative session: the governor delivers a State of the State address that, by design, lays out a broad and commonly ambitious agenda.
Tradition has long held that this kickoff to the session -- the presentation of the governor's vision -- is chock full of ideas but short on specifics on how these ideas will be carried out or paid for. The true nuts and bolts of the agenda arrive a few weeks later, during the presentation of the executive budget, which Governor Cuomo is scheduled to unveil this year on Tuesday, January 22, 2013. That's where we find the all-important details of specific proposals and the Legislature can then begin to better determine their impact on communities across New York.