COLUMN: Direction of legislative year should focus on job development

— He talked also about rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy. I think all of us – Upstate and Downstate – want to help New York State rebuild from that disaster. I'm hopeful the federal government will come through with more disaster relief, as Sandy will play a role into our state budget decisions this year.

I was glad to see plans for a tourism and marketing push for our region. I have been an advocate for our region's assets since taking office. I sponsor legislation that would create the "I love NY outdoors" program. It would require the state to develop a marketing strategy that would promote New York as a premiere destination for hunting and fishing. This would also help the ancillary businesses such as restaurants, retail, bait shops and lodging facilities. We have many natural assets to attract more tourists. I also like the idea of promoting our homegrown products like wine and Greek yogurt. I look forward to learning more about what this means for our region.

Though the Governor did not mention this in his speech, he released an outline of priorities, which included strengthening our laws against synthetic marijuana. Last year, I introduced legislation that influenced the state's policies on this for the public's protection. I plan to introduce additional legislation that will toughen laws and increase penalties. I look forward to working with people in the district to help our voices be heard in Albany so we can see this come to pass.

With the budget process rapidly approaching, I plan on working to ensure our schools receive their fair share of aid. He mentioned a differentiated plan for high-needs districts and I look forward to learning more of what this means in terms of funding for our schools. I hope this will be the year school aid is divided more equitably--something I and many others have fought to make happen for a long time. There is much, however, in his education agenda that deserves careful review and I look forward to learning more in the upcoming days and weeks. I look forward to working to make this a productive session.

Assemblyman Will Barclay represents residents of Assembly District 120, which includes Lysander. He can be reached by mail at 200 North Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or by phone (598-5185).

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