The 2015 legislative session has ended. There were many accomplishments but the list of what did not get done for Upstate is longer. Instead, the end of session was dominated by New York City issues like rent control, property tax exemptions for NYC (421a) and discussions on the control of New York City schools.
Now that the school year has ended, a great way for children to retain the vocabulary and knowledge they’ve acquired this school year is to encourage them to read each day over the summer. Studies show that reading just 15 minutes a day helps prevent learning loss.
The legislature recently passed a bill that, if signed by the governor, would reform the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) and expedite the process for those in search of public records. The measure passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in both the senate and the assembly. I am urging the governor to sign the bill into law and make this change effective immediately. Its unanimous passage shows there is overwhelming public support for a more open government. Any legislation that cuts through the many layers of bureaucracy the public has to deal with in order to get public information is good legislation.
It is not a secret that New York is a challenging state in which to do business because of our high taxes and oppressive regulatory scheme. Some, but not all, of these policies originate out of New York City which faces different demographics and economic conditions than we do in Upstate New York.
FROM THE ASSEMBLY: New York needs more doctors, better policies to encourage more med students to stay
Access to quality healthcare is a necessary component for a thriving community and we are fortunate to have great healthcare facilities and providers in Central New York. That being said, our healthcare system is under stress because we continue to face shortages of healthcare professionals in New York state — particularly in rural areas. These shortages are particularly acute for primary care doctors and nurses, but extend to specialty practices and other healthcare providers.
Locally, our community has stepped up in honor of those who are bravely fighting cancer which requires multiple blood and platelet transfusions.
FROM THE ASSEMBLY: CNY in good position for state economic award, but cutting taxes would benefit all
There are a lot of things to be positive about in Central New York. Unfortunately, the economy is not one of them. Over the last decade, job growth in the Syracuse area has been anemic. The lack of jobs, among other things, has caused an outward migration of population which, in turn, places additional stress on our economy. We are not alone. Almost all of Upstate New York is facing similar challenges. Naturally, as with any crisis, state government wants to provide solutions. Unfortunately, these solutions are often politically expedient reactions rather than rationally thought-out long-term solutions.
I am skeptical of the claim, however, in light of the fact that we have passed “landmark” ethics reform in the recent past and yet ethical lapses by elected officials continue to occur.
In my mind, there are three issues that define this budget: the governor’s so-called education reform, ethics and capital spending. The education section of the budget is discussed below.
Domestic violence, harassment, and sexual assault continue to be issues that concern me. Studies reveal that such abuse occurs more than many realize. A few new laws were recently chaptered and aim to improve victims’ rights and protections. I supported all of these in the Assembly and I am glad they have been signed into law.