January provides us with the opportunity to plan and hope for a Happy New Year as we've learned from the past year. Here are some of the highlights from 2010 in New York State, its government and our lives.
- Fort Ontario was saved. Thanks to a grassroots effort to save Fort Ontario, which included an online survey with more than 1,000 participants expressing their wishes, the fort was saved from closure. Originally, the fort was on a list of parks and state historic sites to close, due to lack of funds. Fortunately, compromises were made in time for the Memorial Day holiday and leaders listened to the swelling grassroots support for Fort Ontario that came from Oswego and surrounding communities.
- The budget passed on Aug. 3 - 125 days late. I did not vote for this poorly constructed budget. Joint conference committee meetings, which were legally supposed to be held to include rank and file members in the budget process, were not held. The $137 billion budget included $1 billion in new taxes and fees, including taxes on clothing and businesses and not only did we not cut spending in an historic deficit year, but the Legislature increased spending by 2.4 percent.
- New Yorkers elected 17, possibly 18, new minority Republican members to the State Assembly. For the first time since 1994, incumbent Democratic Assembly members lost their seats. Regardless of big Republican gains, Democrats still are in the majority in the Assembly. Republicans took back control of the Senate.
- The state began to implement ObamaCare with federal funding and state agencies. A significant change has been the introduction of NY Bridge which came about earlier this year. It overlays other health insurance options that are offered by the state and there is not an income limit for applicants. For information, visit nybridgeplan.com or call 1-800-693-9277.