The New York State Legislature convened last week for its six-month session. Area lawmakers have varying hopes and expectations for 2015.
Another session is under way, but off to a slow start resulting from Governor Andrew Cuomo's decision to move the State of the State address back two weeks following the death of his father, former Governor Mario Cuomo.
The budget is always a major priority, and Governor Cuomo has made it an annual goal to complete it on time, by April 1st. Republican Assemblyman Jim Tedisco of the 112th district believes that every legislator and the governor will focus on turning the economy around "...and the fortunes of our constituents in terms of jobs, economic expansion for small businesses, keeping our young people who get great educations in New York State IN New York State and stopping that 'brain drain.' I think that what that amounts to is that they're building a good foundation with the budget in dealing with the so-called '5-billion dollar surplus,' more better said $5 billion of taxpayer's money."
Democratic Assemblywoman Pat Fahy of the 109th district is presently on the same page. "First up I think will be the $5 billion surplus funds from the bank settlements. I am very focused an support the idea that the bulk of those funds go to infrastructure. My priority though will be to make sure we maximize the number of jobs created with these infrastructure funds, particularly for youth and entry-level workers."
Tedisco agrees that roads and bridges need repair as well, and suggests more in the way of property tax relief, echoing a new proposal from Cuomo announced this week. "We'll be looking and talking about (I know I will) mandate relief, regulatory relief, and really helping not only to keep businesses here and thriving but attract serious businessmen and entrepreneurs and businesswomen and entrepreneurs to New York state so they expand our economy, create those jobs and build a base that reduces the burden on all the individuals we represent."
Fahy is ready to place a few other cards the table. "Some of those include the education funding. I'm very supportive of addressing a number of the gaps that we have from previous years, and sufficiently funding our schools on as equitable a basis as possible. And just getting those dollars up to restore funds that had been previously cut."
Fahy has been a key player in many city of Albany initiatives, including the move shore up the city budget with red light camera ticket revenue. "Another issue of mine will be making sure we do provide the aid to municipalities, including Albany city pilot payments, while making sure we hold the line on property taxes."
Other issues concerning legislators include perennials campaign financing, ethics, and education, plus police reform issues ignited by the Eric Garner incident in New York City: his death in police custody sparked national outrage.
Tedisco says he speaks for all state lawmakers: "We wanna do what any government should do. Provide the best level of services at the lowest cost, and continue to remove obstacles for each and every one of our constituents, so they and New York State can be everything they can be with the God-given talents they've been given, and move forward and continue to make it the Empire State."