State Senator John Bonacic issued the following statement following Governor Spitzer’s 2008 State of the State address and highlighted several issues important to the Hudson Valley and Catskill Region for 2008:
"The beginning of 2007 brought a tremendous sense of optimism for State government. The reality of the year, however, did not meet that optimism. The Governor’s State of the State speech this year, once again brings optimism and energy, and I believe we, in the Legislature, have a duty to work with the Governor in a non-partisan manner.
"The Governor was elected to a four year term. He was not expected to get everything done on Day One or even in Year One. He needs more cooperation from the Legislature and independent Legislators who will stand up for their ideals, even if it means standing with those of opposite political parties – a concept that is, sadly, becoming too uncommon in Albany."
"I have made the Governor and Assembly leadership aware of the needs of the residents of our region, itemized below, and will continue to work to meet those needs. The Senate has passed legislation on many of these issues, but more needs to be done. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Legislature and Governor Spitzer to improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers."
ON PROPERTY TAX REFORM
"The call for a property tax caps is interesting and I appreciate Governor Spitzer’s recognition that STAR has failed its intended purpose."
"However, capping a failed system of taxation is not a long term solution. Lessening the amount of arsenic that one drinks still leaves a fatal result. The highest property tax rate in the nation, must go down, not simply be capped. We need to fund education through a fair formula, on a statewide level, and rid the property tax burden from homeowners once and for all. The Senate has voted time and again for property tax reform; we need the Assembly to stand up to its leadership and demand action and finally vote on tax reform."
ON UPSTATE JOB GROWTH
"I appreciate the Governor’s recognition of the need to do more. The reality is, however, job growth is not just a problem upstate. Some of our counties in the Hudson Valley have failed to create jobs. We need only look to Greene County, to see that economic development is possible. It is not just Utica and Buffalo that needs help. It is Middletown and Monticello and Kingston and Port Jervis. City by city projects, as the Governor has proposed, cannot forget these communities."
"I look forward to working with Congressman Hinchey in Ulster to pursue a better solar energy policy at the State and Federal level. Two weeks after I had the Chairman of Empire State Development in Ulster County, the State committed $1.5 million toward solar energy. I look forward to lobbying for more funding as the solar initiative grows in support."
"Likewise, I look forward to working with Assemblywoman Gunther and officials in Sullivan County to support Sullivan County Community College’s desire for a green building initiative and continue working to make crucial healthcare improvements for Sullivan County"
"I applaud the Governor’s vision for our SUNY system. Equally important though, we must be innovators at the K-12 level. I urge the Assembly’s Democratic Majority to finally pass legislation to create a high school of math, science, and engineering in the Mid-Hudson Valley. These regional schools are national models of learning and there is no reason why the children in the Districts of the Assembly Speaker and Assembly Majority Leader – in Manhattan and Albany, should have the benefit of that type of school, but the children of Ulster, Dutchess, Orange, and Sullivan Counties cannot."
"The area BOCES leaders, area college leaders, and dozens of private sector corporate leaders have all signed onto this concept. The Senate has twice passed legislation to create the Tech Valley High School for Hudson Valley students, and the bill has languished in the Assembly without any excuse."
ON GOVERNMENT REFORM
"Lobbying reform has happened to some degree, thanks in large part to Governor Spitzer’s leadership. I believe we should embrace Comptroller DiNapoli’s call for public financing of the State Comptroller’s election. If successful, it could serve as a model to ensure the implementation of public financing on a statewide basis."
"Attorney General Cuomo’s well developed ‘Sunlight’ initiative – designed to open up government, was brilliantly conceived and executed perfectly. He and his team deserve our thanks for their forward thinking efforts at opening up government."
ON FLOOD CONTROL
"Flood control has got to move from the ‘study’ phase to the results phase. We have seen, with fatal results, a FEMA like response from the DEC and the Assembly on flood related issues. We need the DEC and Assembly to make flood control a priority. Last year, the Senate passed my legislation which directs State Government to take the known studies and implement the solutions those studies call for. It is ridiculous that a government as rich as the United States is not being proactive in areas of flood control. We have studied flood control to death – literally, the time is past for acting and we need to put the full force of the DEC and State Emergency Management office into flood prevention business - NOW."
"Patting ourselves on the back for helping one, two, or twenty families is not acceptable. We need to implement a long term solution for all families."
"I applaud Governor Spitzer’s call for the deployment of 200 State Troopers into areas where crime is a growing concern. I believe we should be seeking to have some of those Troopers deployed to Middletown, Monticello, and Kingston. I will be encouraging local officials to request those deployments, and will be urging the Superintendent of State Police to honor any local request made for those additional Troopers."
ON AFFORDABLE HOUSING
"As Chairman of the Senate Housing Committee, I applaud the Governor’s call for an enhanced State housing investment. Government cannot bail out every homeowner who bought a home they cannot afford. Government can, however, make sure that the lenders contract with homeowners fairly, and we can utilize tools like SONYMA to refinance existing high rate mortgages so that families can stay in New York."
"I applaud Governor Spitzer’s call to cover ever child with affordable Healthcare insurance. We need a national healthcare policy, but until that time, we ought to at least make sure our must vulnerable citizens - our children, who cannot make their own choices, have access to quality affordable healthcare."