“Great Things Awaited Us At The Start Of 2014. Too Many Are Still Waiting.”

“Many great things awaited us at the start of 2014. At the end of the legislative session, too many of those things are still waiting. The flurry of activity in the past 24 hours illustrates how much more should have been achieved during the last six months. Last-minute legislative agreements generate headlines, but Albany doesn’t deserve points for procrastination.
 
Although a few high profile bills passed at the 11th hour, the end-of-session rush doesn’t make up for the long list of issues that went ignored. There were opportunities to make history and provide greater help for New York’s children, families, women, schools and hardworking taxpayers. We missed far too many of those chances.
 
New Yorkers can be pleased that the 2014 legislative session produced measures that:

  • Address the growing heroin epidemic that threatens the health and well-being of people and communities throughout the state. Efforts to augment treatment, prevention and enforcement have never been more important. 
     
  • Restore more than $600 million to the 2011 Gap Elimination cuts in school aid – increasing much-needed education resources to school districts that are annually threatened with cuts to faculty and programs.
     
  • Lower energy bills for consumers and businesses by accelerating the phase-out of the onerous 18-A Energy Tax.
     
  • Provide greater opportunities for disabled veterans to succeed in business by passing the Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Business Act.
     
  • Ease the financial burdens on job-creating businesses by cutting Real Property and Corporate Franchise taxes.

The same kind of effort displayed in the session's final days could have made enormous differences for New Yorkers if it was applied throughout the year. Significant pieces of legislation with bipartisan support were often ignored. New Yorkers deserved far better than what they received. For example:

  • Brittany’s Law was blocked in the Assembly – an insult to victims of violent crimes and an irresponsible missed opportunity to make New York’s communities safer. Legislation to create a registry of violent felony offenders has passed the Senate five times by overwhelming margins. But bipartisan support hasn’t moved the bill in the Assembly. Saving lives and preventing crimes are apparently of little interest to the Majority Conference, which refuses to allow a vote on the bill.    
     
  • For another year, the Assembly Majority used women’s rights as a political sideshow. We had the chance to enact historic legislation.  However, by blocking separate votes on nine bills, no new laws were enacted and women were denied protections from violence and discrimination.
     
  • New York’s students will take flawed Common Core tests again next year. While teacher evaluations are an important part of the discussion, tests should be delayed until proper modifications to the program are made. Opting for a band-aid approach to fix our educational system is a disservice to the students, parents, teachers and school districts that are directly impacted. 
     
  • New York’s law-abiding gun owners continue to express outrage over the SAFE Act. Unfortunately, failure to repeal the act ignores their Constitutional freedoms.
     
  • The Legislature failed to take significant steps toward cleaning up Albany’s culture of corruption. Despite arrests, investigations and trials of public officers, proposals that would strip convicted officials of their taxpayer-funded pensions and enact term limits for legislative leaders and committee chairs fell by the wayside. 
     
  • Albany’s practice of increasing costs on local governments continues to go unchecked. Unfunded state mandates forced on municipalities are the true driver of the nation’s highest property taxes. Without serious mandate relief legislation, the burden on New York’s property owners will remain among the worst in the country for another year.
     
  • Despite Majority sponsorship and overwhelming support from both Assembly conferences, New York remains the only state that has not legalized Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Legalizing MMA would bring millions of dollars in much-needed revenue and jobs to Upstate communities.

The end of session does not mean the end of discussion on these critical measures. The missed opportunities of the 2014 session become the immediate priorities moving forward.”

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