Palmesano Editorial: My Goals For 2016 State Lawmaker Session

January 9, 2016
A legislative column by Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning)

On Wednesday January 13th, Governor Cuomo will present his annual State of the State/Budget Address to highlight his priorities for the upcoming 2016 Legislative Session. While we certainly have many challenges facing our state, I also believe we have many opportunities to help improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers. While I know that the governor will be presenting his agenda, I believe the points highlighted below are a blueprint, and a step in the right direction, for turning around our economy and improving the lives of hardworking New Yorkers.

– Tax and Regulatory Relief – We need a broad, bold and aggressive tax and regulatory relief package for families, small businesses, farmers and manufacturers that will encourage much needed private sector investment, economic development and job creation.

-Local Roads and Bridges – Parity for upstate and downstate transportation and infrastructure needs, particularly increased CHIPS funding that will help local municipalities repair our local roads, bridges and culverts.

-Unfunded mandate relief – Mandate relief for our local governments and school districts will help cut costs for municipalities and school districts, savings that can be passed on to the local property taxpayer

-Education Funding – Restoration of the funds that were cut from our school districts in 2010, known as the gap elimination adjustment (GEA). Although we have made progress to restore these cuts, this year it must be our priority to finally eliminate the GEA.

-High Stakes Standardized Testing – Definitive action on eliminating the overemphasis on high stakes, Common Core standardized testing. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if we want to truly reform our education system to provide our children with a world class education we need to treat our parents as partners, teachers as professionals and ensure our children’s self- worth isn’t measured by how they do on a high stakes standardized test.

-Direct care/Human service workers – support for those who work for nonprofit agencies providing critical quality of life services for our most vulnerable New Yorkers – the developmentally disabled.

-Ethics Reform – Real public ethics reform starts with stripping the pensions of public officials who violate the public trust, term limits for legislative leaders and committee chairs and greater transparency and limits on outside income and campaign contributions.

Although this will be a challenging year, I believe by working together, we have the opportunity to make a difference for New Yorkers across our state. I look forward to working with the governor and my legislative colleagues, to craft a budget and a legislative agenda that improves the quality of life for all New Yorkers.