Thomas F. O'Mara's Blog entries

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

What about rural New York?

Let's not forget that New York, in so many ways, remains a rural state.

Approximately 44 of New York’s 62 counties are designated as rural, including all of the counties I represent.

Thirty years ago, the state Legislature established what's become commonly known as the Rural Resources Commission.  A 10-member, bipartisan commission on which I currently serve as a member, the Commission was founded to examine the impact of rural communities and industries on the state economy; review existing state laws and regulations impacting rural regions; assess the effectiveness of state programs and services affecting the needs and problems of rural areas; and develop recommendations for the Legislature to enhance and protect New York’s rural resources.

July 16, 2012

A Cool Town

Summer in the Finger Lakes is already getting into full swing, including this weekend's "America's Coolest Small Town 2012" celebration in Hammondsport, Steuben County.

I'll be joining other area officials and community residents at Saturday’s village-wide celebration of Hammondsport’s  designation as Budget Travel magazine’s “America’s Coolest Small Town.”

What a great way to help welcome another season of summer tourism in the Finger Lakes.  It took a fantastic, region-wide show of support to help Hammondsport rise to the top, and it’s a real tribute to one of our great Finger Lakes towns.

June 29, 2012

New jobs in June?

A weak, less-than-optimistic national jobs report from the federal Labor Department was released today.

A few days ago, a state comptroller's report on the New York economy reached the conclusion that "we're not out of the woods yet."

And to begin the week, data from the Tax Foundation showed that “New York tops the nation in one key export: people fleeing high taxes.” 

June 1, 2012

Meth Again

We’ve seen an alarming and a troubling increase across the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions over the past year in the incidents of addiction, violence and tragedy that are the by-products of rampant methamphetamine production and use. 

The officers of the Southern Tier Methamphetamine Task Force continue to do outstanding work to protect our communities. 

But none of us can sit back and allow our region or anywhere else in New York State to serve as a safe harbor for meth labs, meth addicts or meth pushers. The risks are too great and the consequences too overwhelming for the safety of our neighborhoods, our police officers and our first responders, to say nothing of local systems of health care, criminal justice and social services.

May 9, 2012
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