The State Legislature recently concluded one of the most successful sessions in recent history; a session highlighted by a budget that cut state spending, reduced taxes and helped point New York in a positive direction toward economic growth, job creation and prosperity. The newly-enacted State Budget was passed on-time, closed a $10 billion deficit, reduced state spending, and did not raise a single tax or fee – marking a sharp departure of the past two years.
With new leadership in the State Senate and in the Governor’s Office, we were able to take strong, decisive action on a wide array of important issues that will benefit our economy, taxpayers and our local community for years to come.
While the marriage equality act most assuredly captured the headlines throughout our state and beyond our borders, progress was made on a number of significant issues, including a long-sought property tax cap, a first and long overdue step on the road to greater mandate relief (it should be noted, I remain committed to my battle to make progress in removing costly, onerous mandates), landmark ethics reform, job creation and energy savings initiatives.
It was a productive and fulfilling session for me personally as well. More than half the bills I introduced were passed in the Senate this session – 43 in total.
Most notable are:
· bills repealing the MTA payroll tax which will ease an enormous financial burden that caused job losses and hurt businesses in Dutchess County;
· legislation which protects patients using prescription eye drops by ensuring continuity of treatment;
· bills eliminating or reducing unfunded and underfunded mandates imposed by the state on local governments and school districts;
· a measure expanding the DNA database requiring all individuals convicted of a felony or misdemeanor to submit a DNA sample;
· a bill to protect students from bullying and cyberbullying;
· and several bills that strengthen penalties and provide additional protections for children and families. In this same vein, throughout the session, I worked on several measures which strengthened the laws relating to domestic violence. With four recent tragic deaths relating to domestic violence in Dutchess County, advancement of these bills was a personal priority. Working closely with my Assembly colleagues, four of the domestic violence bills I sponsored passed in both houses this session.
While some of these issues were not taken up by the Assembly, I am confident that we can build on the successes of the 2011 Session when we reconvene in 2012.
Our successes this year were in large part a product of bipartisanship. Working with Governor Cuomo, the Senate was able to get state government pointed in the right direction and establish a strong record of cutting spending and taxes and creating jobs. I hope to build on this record as we go forward. The taxpayers of our state deserve nothing less.