Picking up on the themes Governor Spitzer laid out in his first State of the State Address, Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D-Bronx/Westchester) called on the Legislature to immediately pass sweeping reforms to make our state government more transparent, cut property and business taxes to help attract new businesses and create jobs, invest in our public schools to broaden opportunity for all and reform our health care system to better serve all New Yorkers.
"New Yorkers made it clear last November that they are demanding a government that is fiscally and ethically responsible to the economic and social needs of its citizens," said Senator Hassell-Thompson. "That means a top to bottom reform not only of our Legislature but every agency and public authority to restore public faith and ensure accountability of all state employees, from the Governor and elected leaders on down."
"The time for rhetoric is over. The time for action is here. Now we must live up to our promises to change the very way our government functions," said Senator Hassell-Thompson. "I’ll continue to work with the Democratic Conference, Governor Spitzer and any group or party that is committed to working with us to make government more transparent and efficient."
Senator Hassell-Thompson said the first order of business is reforming the Legislature, including banning all gifts to elected officials, limiting the amount of campaign contributions individuals and corporations can make, and passing and enforcing strict new ethic guidelines for all state employees. "As Governor Spitzer said, these reforms are not for the sake of saying we reformed government, but are systemic to a more open and responsive government. We must stop the flood of special interest money that corrupts our political system and erodes public confidence," said Senator Hassell-Thompson.
"Reforming the Legislature will have a transformational affect on governing. Opening up the budget process will help ensure a fair, on-time budget," said Senator Hassell-Thompson. "Reforming government programs such as Medicaid will save billions of dollars and allow us to cut taxes to benefit working families, expand affordable housing and reduce the high cost of energy, insurance, workers’ compensation and construction that is holding back economic investment in New York."
"As far as public education goes, every child deserves an equal opportunity to succeed. It’s imperative, not only for schools in my district, but for children in classrooms across the state, that we equitably fund our public schools. That’s why I support the current school aid formula."
Senator Hassell-Thompson also noted that she was especially impressed by the Governor’s plan to cut local property taxes by $6 billion over three years and to place a hard cap on Medicaid costs on localities. "One of the reasons New York continues to be unlivable for middle-class families is soaring property taxes and the high cost of home ownership. Lowering property taxes and capping Medicaid will help stabilize our local tax base and make it more affordable to stay in New York. The Governor’s call for a statewide effort to build more affordable housing will be cheered in my district and it’s a plan I intend to support wholeheartedly."
"I join my constituents in a common desire to reform New York and make smart investments in our future. There’s no question that the challenges ahead are many and there are powerful special interests lining up against change. But with the leadership of Governor Spitzer and Senate Democrats and your strong voice being heard, New York will once again become a world leader in innovation, job creation and economic opportunity."