June 23, 2021
State Senator Tom O’Mara (R,C,I-Big Flats) released the following statement after today’s announcement that the COVID-19 State of Emergency in New York State will expire on Thursday:
“The end of the State of Emergency is what we all have been waiting, working, and sacrificing toward. It has been clear throughout the past fifteen months that communities here in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions, and across New York State, could not have kept moving forward throughout this pandemic without the perseverance, sacrifice, and undeniable strength of frontline workers, essential employees and volunteers in health care, agriculture, businesses large and small, law enforcement and public safety, education, community and social services, and so many other fields.
“Our gratitude to frontline heroes cannot be measured and their example will continue to show the way to a better and stronger future. We have demonstrated that by working together, pulling for each other, and staying informed, our communities will always be resilient and, in the face of whatever comes our way, never lose hope in recovering.
“That will be the case here. The work of rebuilding and getting our communities back on solid ground again begin in earnest now. Most importantly, it needs to be delivered through local decision-making. One of the key lessons learned from the COVID-19 emergency is that state and local decision-making cannot be left indefinitely in the hands of one branch of government that will impose a one-size-fits-all, across-the-board response.
“I truly hope that the State Legislature reengages in its constitutional role of checks and balances on the Executive. Governor Cuomo’s unilateral, dictatorial emergency powers continued for far too long unfettered by legislative approvals or oversight. His abuse of these emergency powers devastated our Upstate economy and, in fact, New York State now languishes behind every other state in the nation on economic recovery since the pandemic. Further, New York continues to lead the country in unemployment. The Governor and the legislature’s Democrat Majorities that allowed his unilateral powers to remain in place for far too long are largely to blame for New York’s floundering economy. Much work needs to be done, and quickly, to kick-start the state’s economy and get people back to work.
“The Legislature must return from its recess to immediately take up a pro-jobs and pro-business package to get the state’s economy on its feet.”
From State Senator George Borrello:
“The lifting of the state of emergency and the end of the governor’s executive emergency power is welcome news and long overdue. While he’s taking an unjustified victory lap, make no mistake, the governor doesn’t deserve credit for this achievement.
“The credit belongs to the 19.5 million New Yorkers, who persevered and prevailed against COVID while hamstrung by the arbitrary edicts from a leader more concerned with amassing political power and advantage than serving the people he swore an oath to protect.
“Our efforts as we move forward to rebuild and recover are hampered because of those executive actions.
“For 15 months New Yorkers have been living with the governor’s executive orders and unscientific and unjustified restrictions. New York led the nation in outmigration prior to the pandemic. The governor’s emergency declarations made matters worse.
“Unfortunately when Democrats in Albany had the chance to return checks and balances to state government, they didn’t take it.
“Multiple times, myself and my colleagues in the GOP conference advanced amendments to force a clean repeal of the governor’s executive authority. The majority rejected those efforts every time. I introduced legislation, S.1749, to restore legislative checks and balances and the Legislature’s constitutional role as co-equal branch of government. It was ignored.
“The fact that it took a declaration from the governor to end this travesty tells us all we need to know about the majority’s so-called “repeal” of the governor’s emergency powers three months ago.
“As one of only four senators who voted against granting the governor such sweeping unilateral authority back on March 3, 2020, I find it disheartening that my colleagues in the majority found it so easy to cede their authority and ignore their duty to affirm the Legislature as a separate, co-equal branch of government.
“While this is certainly a moment to celebrate, today’s announcement is emblematic of the current lack of common-sense leadership in our state.”