The last several years have been marked by upheaval in New York. Just as everyone is still gaining their footing after the height of the pandemic, scandal rocked the state’s highest office when it was discovered Gov. Cuomo was working to make a profit off of the tragedy in our nursing homes and that there were numerous sexual harassment complaints against him. Gov. Hochul took the reins after Cuomo’s resignation, and even then her lieutenant governor was mired in scandal leading to his resignation. Even further still, the redrawing of legislative district lines became a partisan spectacle this year, leading to lawsuits amid confusion for legislators and residents, overshadowing the work that needed to be done.
It is no exaggeration to say that New York has been thrown a number of distractions over the years, many of which were self-created by extreme partisanship and a culture of corruption. These distractions, unfortunately, derail the good work the Legislature should be doing for the people.
This year, I helped deliver much-needed relief to hardworking New York families. There will be $2.2 billion in help delivered through homeowner tax rebate checks. We accelerated $162 million in middle-class tax cuts. The gas tax suspension will save New York motorists $585 million. For our job creators, $98 million was approved in tax credits for farmers, $100 million in small business tax relief, $250 million in tax credits for COVID-related expenses, and $1 million to extend the Hire-A-Vet tax credit.
Relief for our taxpayers who are struggling under the weight of inflation is the right kind of work that the Legislature should be throwing itself into. My Minority colleagues and I offered an additional solution to eliminate taxes on everyday items like groceries, clothing, and household cleaning items; however, it too was rejected by the Majority. As previously mentioned, the state government allows itself to get distracted by its own self-created scandals. It allows itself to be preoccupied by the special interests that conflict with the policies that help support hardworking families and ensure our communities have the tools and policies in place to keep it safe.
Preoccupation with special interests leads to the Majority in the Legislature rewarding criminals but refusing to provide meaningful and effective reform to the misguided 2019 bail laws, despite the growing incidents of violent crime like assaults and hate crimes throughout New York State. I, along with my Minority colleagues, offered reforms and solutions to make our communities safer by restoring judicial discretion, requiring bail for gun and hate crimes, and reforming parole. All were denied by the Majority. Instead, their focus was primarily rewarding those who break our laws while further restricting the rights of law-abiding New Yorkers. It is not a plan that seems to make sense.
In the end, some good things were eked out of this legislative session; however, I always think we can and must do more. I won’t relent in advocating for more relief for your families, especially when I see so many struggling. I want to provide as many tools as possible so that our residents and communities can thrive.
I welcome comments on this or any other legislative topic. Please contact me at either my Central New York district office at 315-736-3879, or my Albany office at 518-455-5334. You may also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.