Thomas F. O'Mara's Blog entries

Looking Ahead

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." 

August 30, 2013

Join The Fight!

An online “Join The Fight!” petition drive that I've recently started to rally public support for the continued operation of the Elmira Psychiatric Center (Elmira PC) is now nearing 1,000 supporters.  

The response has grown day by day, and it’s been very positive.

Most importantly, it’s going to be very helpful to the overall effort to encourage Governor Cuomo and his administration to reconsider the future of the Elmira PC.

July 22, 2013

Read, read, read


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.”

July 15, 2013


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.  

June 20, 2013

Tax-Free NY?


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.


June 5, 2013

What would we do?

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?

April 24, 2013

Meth's Trail

Ashland. Elmira. Bath. Savona. Erwin. Corning. Lindley. Bradford. Southport. Tuscarora. Caton.

What’s one thing these regional communities have in common? Unfortunately, they’ve all been the site of a methamphetamine-related arrest or other incident over the past year.

Go back a few years -- or move your finger along the map into the counties west of Steuben or east of Chemung -- and the trail of communities touched by meth keeps spreading.

And this just represents the meth-related activity we know about.


April 16, 2013


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. 

April 3, 2013

Local Roads Matter

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.

Extra Images: 

March 6, 2013

Let's Start Here

It’s time to try something bold for the upstate economy. 

And I believe it starts with a revitalized upstate manufacturing sector.  Manufacturing has always been the economic engine of many upstate communities, and it remains our best hope for revitalization. 

Government can help lead that effort by cutting taxes. 

And we can start with this pro-job, pro-private- sector, pro-manufacturing tax cut.  Read more...

February 15, 2013

Pull the Plug on New Taxes

Here's my take on one piece of Governor Cuomo's 2013-14 proposed state budget:

February 5, 2013

The 3rd Cuomo Budget

"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. 

January 24, 2013

Opening Act

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.

January 10, 2013

Start Here, Get There

January is College Financial Aid Awareness Month in New York State and the Higher Education Service Corporation’s (HESC) “Start Here, Get There” campaign is currently offering events and other tools to help students and families undertake the college aid application process.

It’s one of the most daunting tasks facing college-bound students and their families.  But now’s the time to get started and this month’s ‘Start Here, Get There’ financial aid awareness campaign offers easily accessible and vitally important information and assistance.  It’s a one-stop clearinghouse for the tools that students and families need to complete the process.

Find out more...

January 3, 2013

Jobs Express

Since it was launched in October 2011, New York State's "Jobs Express" website has helped more than 59,000 citizens find work through its extensive online postings.

Jobs Express currently has more than 74,000 job openings available at more than 4,600 employers across New York -- including employers throughout the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes region.

It's worth a look.



December 14, 2012

Long Days, Longer Nights

Hundreds of thousands of our fellow New Yorkers are still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, which was followed last week by a Nor'easter that battered these communities again with more wind, rain, snow and power outages.

I simply can't say enough about all of the businesses, first responders, relief groups, volunteers and concerned citizens who continue to answer the call from throughout the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions.

If there's one thing we understand, it's this: They need our help.

November 14, 2012

Summit No. 2

So what’s on tap for the end of October in New York State government?

How about today's first-ever “Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit” convened by Governor Andrew Cuomo in Albany.

It marks the latest chapter in New York government taking a more active, collaborative, nuts-and-bolts partnership role in our pursuit to improve the business climate in New York to foster economic growth and create jobs.

Government as the gateway to a better business climate. Imagine that.

October 24, 2012

Rural Futures

Approximately 44 of New York’s 62 counties are designated as rural, and that's why the State Legislature saw fit to create one of our longest-standing commissions 30 years ago this year.

It's called the Legislative Commission on the Development of Rural Resources, and over the past three decades, it's been respected as voice for rural New York at the Capitol.

October 3, 2012


One of the true highlights of the 2012 legislative session was recently signed into law by Governor Cuomo.

It's called I-STOP and it's a measure that makes New York State a national leader in combating prescription drug abuse.

Prescription drug abuse has emerged as one of America’s most alarming, tragic and urgent public health challenges.  This action places New York at the forefront of addressing it and attempting to save lives, especially young lives.

Consider this: in 2010, over 22 million prescriptions for painkilling drugs were written in New York State -- not including refills.  That’s a stunning figure, especially in a state where the entire population is less than 20 million.  

September 7, 2012

Modern Crime Fighting

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on August 1 that "the groundbreaking law expanding New York State's DNA databank by requiring anyone convicted of any felony or Penal Law misdemeanor to provide a DNA sample is now effective."

That's great news.

The State Legislature gave final approval to the expansion and it was signed into law by the governor earlier this year. 

The expansion of the state's DNA databank is a move that law enforcement leaders locally and across New York State have called an essential modern-day crime-fighting tool.



August 2, 2012
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