About Catharine Young
Assistant Minority Leader for Conference Operations
Republican, Conservative, Independence Party Republican, Conservative, Independence Party
Senator Catharine M. Young is a tireless leader and advocate for the people of Western New York. She represents Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany and half of Livingston counties, and has received more than 250 awards and acknowledgements for her accomplishments in public service.
In January 2016, Senator Young made history when she took the reins as Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance, becoming the first woman to hold that powerful position. As Finance Chair, Senator Young was responsible for reviewing fiscal and other matters related to state revenues, spending and taxation. She oversaw the Senate’s role in passage of the annual New York State budget by presiding over joint legislative hearings on the Governor’s proposal, taking part in revenue forecasting, and ensuring that budget resolutions and bills are passed.
As a strong voice for tax relief, jobs and economic growth, and responsible government, Senator Young has a significant record of accomplishments. She is recognized as a friend of the taxpayer and an outspoken advocate for middle-class families across the state, having championed the successful property tax cap that has put the brakes on out-of-control property tax hikes. She has led the charge on growing manufacturing jobs and small businesses by promoting sound policies that make the state’s business climate more competitive.
Senator Young has authored significant legislation that has opened greater access to health care. She has successfully fought to strengthen hospitals across her district. Senator Young was responsible for legislation that established reimbursement for telehealth services so that technology can enhance quality of medical care, especially in rural areas. She is a vocal advocate for people with disabilities and those who have mental illness, and championed Kendra’s Law, named after Kendra Webdale from Fredonia who lost her life when a mentally ill man pushed her in front of a New York City subway train. The legislation enabled people with severe mental illness who are a danger to themselves or others to receive the treatment they need. Senator Young recently worked to safeguard patients facing serious illness by passing legislation that gives doctors the ability to prescribe proper therapies immediately, instead of requiring patients to “fail” on insurance company mandated cheapter, yet ineffective, treatments first. She also founded a mobile dental unit that brings much-needed dental care from the prestigious University of Buffalo Dental School to children and veterans in rural regions.
A staunch advocate for children’s learning opportunities, Senator Young consistently prioritized investments in the classrooms. She has successfully worked to secure record levels of school aid for her Senate district to ensure that every student has access to quality education so they can compete and succeed.
Along with chairing the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Young is also active on the Senate Standing Committees on Housing and Transportation, and the Select Committee on State-Native American Relations. She is a member of the Senate Task Force on Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases and Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction, where she plays a key role in efforts to combat two of the fastest growing public health crises in New York State.
In addition to these responsibilities, she is a member of the Financial Restructuring Board for Local Governments, the New York State Council on Women and Girls, the Interstate Compact on Juveniles, the State of New York Agriculture Task Force, the Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, the Legislative Women’s Caucus, and the New York State Armed Forces Legislative Caucus. She also founded the Legislative Wine and Grape Caucus and sponsored legislation creating the New York State Council on Food Policy, of which she also is a member.
Previously, Senator Young served as Chair of the Senate Committee on Housing, Construction, and Community Development where she worked to revitalize communities, grow the economy, and help create safe, affordable housing opportunities. She also chaired the Senate Agriculture Committee, a leadership position she took on immediately after joining the State Senate in 2005, working to strengthen New York State’s top industry.
Senator Young was first elected to the state Senate in a special election in May of 2005. She served in the State Assembly from 1999 to 2005, where she held several top leadership positions, including helping lead the floor debate as Assistant Minority Leader Pro Tempore.
Her career in public service began in 1995 when she won a seat on the Cattaraugus County Legislature, and she swiftly was named Majority Whip.
Senator Young’s professional career prior to elected office was in public relations and communications. She attended SUNY Fredonia and graduated magna cum laude from St. Bonaventure University with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication.
Born and raised in Western New York, she is the second oldest of six children and grew up on a dairy and crops farm in Livingston County. Her role models for hard work and civic involvement are her parents, James and Mary Joan Orman. Despite his grueling schedule as a farmer, her father served on the Avon Central School Board of Education, Avon Town Board, and as Avon Town and Village Justice of the Peace for 32 years. Her mother served as a longtime volunteer for St. Agnes School and parish, the Avon Nursing Home, and Meals on Wheels.
Senator Young is married to Richard Young, is the mother of three grown children and has one grandchild.