State of the State Response with Senator Rich Funke

January 21, 2015

Hi, I’m Rich Funke - - one of 7 freshman legislators who are part of a new Senate Republican Majority.

We come from all walks of life – real estate, small business, local government. Two have even served their country with honors as members of the U.S. military.

For more than three decades, I was a television news and sports anchor in Rochester.

Like many of my colleagues, I’ve been blessed to have a full and rewarding career outside of politics.

But when I was approached about running for the Senate, the opportunity to give back to my community and state was one I just couldn't pass up.

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The challenges we face are considerable, but so too is our resolve to overcome them.

According to a recent study by the US Census Bureau, New York has been overtaken by Florida as the nation's third most populous state.

It didn't happen by accident and it didn’t happen overnight.

New York's government taxed and spent too much, and sent its citizens fleeing for relief in other states.

And while a bipartisan government has made progress in reversing this trend over the last four years, more still needs to be done.

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Together, we have the power to put New Yorkers on a better path for the future.

It starts with getting government out of the way so the private sector can create new, high-paying jobs and give working people the power to live out their destiny RIGHT HERE IN NEW YORK.

We need lower taxes across the board for hardworking taxpayers and small businesses.

We need fewer regulations so owning a business in New York doesn't feel like running a marathon or climbing a mountain.

We need to reduce energy costs so companies can use the savings to grow and thrive.

In short, we must keep state government’s focus exactly where it should be - - on the legitimate economic concerns felt by taxpayers and their families - - and on how we can encourage private sector economic development so they can have a good job that improves their life.

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We know that New Yorkers want Democrats and Republicans to work together to get results.

That's why despite winning an outright majority, Senate Republicans are continuing their historic coalition with members of the Independent Democratic Conference.

This partnership has produced four consecutive on-time budgets, brought spending under control, secured a property tax cap and ended the dysfunction that once plagued Albany.

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This year, we will take the next step on behalf of the people we were elected to serve.

Let's approve the state's fifth straight budget before the April 1 deadline.

Let's continue to get our fiscal house in order by approving a no or low-growth budget that recognizes the destructive nature of spending more than taxpayers can afford.

Next, let’s accelerate tax cuts so hardworking families get the relief they need and deserve as quickly as possible.

And while we’re at it, let’s cut property taxes for every middle-income taxpayer in every region of the state - - and do it this year.

When it comes to billions in one-time settlement money for New York, Senate Republicans think we should invest it in modernizing the state’s infrastructure - - roads and bridges, sewer and water systems - - projects that are geared toward real economic development, creating new jobs and putting New Yorkers to work.

The Legislature should - - and will - - have a role in determining how these monies and other critical economic development funds are spent.

It’s essential that every region of this state benefit from the budget so there aren’t winners and losers from one region to the next.

Five billion dollars presents us with a unique opportunity to boost the entire state. Let’s do it right.

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Last week, the Senate passed a comprehensive Women’s Equality Agenda that enhances the rights of women and protects those who are most vulnerable to abuse and discrimination.

This package of eight bills would: stop human trafficking; ensure equal pay for equal work; combat sexual harassment, and provide stronger protections for domestic violence victims, among many other historic women's measures.

It’s time for the Assembly to join us in approving these bills without further delay. The women of this state have already waited too long.

Let’s show the nation that in New York real progress on women's health and women’s equality always trumps partisan politics - - not the other way around.

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Let's give every child access to a first-class education and the opportunity that comes with it.

It goes without saying that every school district must have the resources to succeed but parents also need more options when a school is failing their child.

All kids should have a quality teacher and limitless opportunity.

In New York, we can have high standards without the anxiety and unease we’ve witnessed with the implementation of Common Core.

And this year, let’s eliminate all of what’s left of the Gap Elimination Adjustment scheme imposed by Democrats in 2009 that has hurt our schools.

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In a dangerous world, we must do everything possible to protect the police officers who protect us.

Senate Republicans will hold hearings to address serious concerns raised in the wake of the deaths of two New York City police officers.

We must promote better police and public safety in New York City and across the state.

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Traditionally, the Governor’s State of the State address marks the start of the legislative session.

This year, the Governor’s speech was delayed and ultimately combined with his budget presentation due to the passing of his father Mario - - a three-term former New York Governor.

Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with Governor Cuomo and his family as they mourn this loss.

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Much like the ushering in of a new year, however, a new legislative session brings with it newness and hope.

It represents opportunity and a renewed commitment to doing the work that needs to be done.

From Western New York to the Northern reaches of the Adirondacks to the eastern edge of Suffolk County, this is a great state filled with even better people who are longing to create a more prosperous life for themselves and their families.

As a government, we must rise even higher to meet their expectations.

We’ve got to make New York the Empire State again.

Middle-class families can succeed and prosper RIGHT HERE IN NEW YORK.

Hardworking taxpayers can get relief from high taxes RIGHT HERE IN NEW YORK.

Young people can find a good-paying job RIGHT HERE IN NEW YORK.

And, we CAN make it easier to save for college and plan for the future RIGHT HERE IN NEW YORK.

Senate Republicans are ready to roll up their sleeves and get down to business.

Working together, I know we can make this the most productive session ever.

Thank you.

 

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