"First I want to again thank the constituents of the 62nd District for allowing me the opportunity to serve them again this year in the New York State Senate. Last year, under the leadership of the Senate Majority and of Governor Andrew Cuomo, we accomplished a great deal, including an early budget, enacted property tax caps and reduced tax rates on the middle class. While last year was a success, there is still a great deal to be done to keep this State moving in the right direction.
"I am pleased to be a member of the new Senate Majority Coalition, where the chamber will not be run by Republicans or Democrats separately, but where both parties will work together to put the priorities of the people above those of each party. This morning, in the spirit of bi-partisanship, I was delighted to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Senator Jeffery Klein. I believe today is the start to a great year focusing on common ground as opposed to political agendas.
"As the Senate Energy Chair, I was pleased that Governor Cuomo made energy initiatives a major part of his 2013 agenda. Energy is the engine of any modern economy. Without it, everything comes to a halt. As our recent storms have shown us, we need a more resilient energy infrastructure; we need to reduce our consumption of energy and, we must do all of this while keeping rates down. To achieve this goal we must develop a self-sustaining clean energy economy that will deliver both new jobs and cleaner air. New York has immense resources, nationally recognized clean energy programs, and some of the smartest, most innovative, and hardest-working people in the world.
"To plan and execute this strategy, Governor Cuomo has asked Richard Kauffman to join his Cabinet as Chairman for Energy Policy and Finance. Mr. Kauffman has worked in energy and finance at the highest levels in both the public and private sector. A senior advisor to the nation’s Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Mr. Kauffman is one of the country’s leading experts in private sector investment in clean energy. Mr. Kauffman will direct the state’s energy policy through a newly formed energy subcabinet. One of his first responsibilities will be to develop the Governor’s newly proposed NY Green Bank. Mr. Kauffman will be a significant addition to State government, and I look forward to working with him.
"The proposed NY Green Bank, will invest $1 billion in financing clean energy projects and create jobs. This will include collecting from various clean energy funds to get matching private investment for clean energy projects. While I am interested to see how this program will be implemented, I am cautiously optimistic that it will continue to put NY at the energy forefront.
"I am extremely pleased to see that the Governor plans to extend and expand the NY-Sun Program through 2023. Providing incentives to expand solar energy in the state is extremely important, because it will create jobs and provide cleaner, domestically produced energy. I support this proposal and I look forward to seeing its extension and expansion to residential units.
"I was also happy to see the inclusion of Energy Sector Workforce Development. This program would work with NYPA and NYSERDA and the investor-owned utilities to create a training program in order to recruit a new generation of utility workers. The current utility workforce is aging and NYPA alone has 30% of its workforce 5 years from retirement. The education and development of the utility workforce is a must and I look forward to the development of this program.
"While these are just a few of the energy proposals presented today by the Governor, I am looking forward to the challenge of working with him to continue to drive Energy Legislation in the right direction for New York.
"In addition to proposals to drive our energy economy forward, I was also pleased that the Governor acknowledges the importance of Upstate New York and agriculture in this state through his Taste-NY Initiative and the $5 Million Dollar Advertising Campaign. Agriculture is an important part of our local economy and therefore I am very supportive of any and all efforts to promote New York State products.
"Governor Cuomo set forth a very aggressive and in-depth agenda for 2013. I am looking forward to hearing more about his specific proposals, and augmenting it with the Senate’s agenda to provide the citizens of this state with the policies that they deserve. Now it is time for us to ensure that we take this State to the next level in a way that is best for the people."