ALBANY - The state Senate is gearing up for the 57 days it will meet for session this year.
The Senate will be returning to Albany on Tuesday for its first session since June 21, 2012. And, this year, it will be returning with a bipartisan effort between Senate Republicans and the Independent Democratic Conference.
"We are gearing up for session to begin," said Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean. "The State of the State Address in on (Wednesday). So, we have a bipartisan effort that is going on in the Senate that I think will be very good for Upstate New York. It will make sure that our voices are heard in state government. I'm really looking forward to session beginning and I think it's going to be very positive."
In the past, Sen. Young said New York City controlled the entire agenda for the state, which she felt was very damaging to Upstate New York.
"It was damaging to our economy, to our schools, the funding that we received for other efforts," she said.
Now, with the bipartisan effort, Sen. Young said it is a chance for members of the Senate to work together, in order to achieve real results for the people it represents.
"I'm really looking forward to session beginning and I think it's going to be very positive."
state Sen. Cathy Young
And, the partnership isn't something new, according to Sen. Young.
"We have had a strong relationship with the Independent Democratic Conference for two years now, since they formed," she said. "We have worked with them in a bipartisan manner in the past. This change isn't really that much different."
While in Albany, Sen. Young said there are several issues that will need to be tackled, including the state budget. She said there will be fiscal challenges that the state will need to overcome this year. Additionally, recognizing the areas devastated by Superstorm Sandy will be on the agenda for the Senate.
"New York state was severely affected by Superstorm Sandy," Sen. Young said. "Thankfully, it didn't affect our region, but parts of the state were devastated. There are still people without a place to live our any type of electricity. We are hopeful that the federal allocation comes through so that we can help those victims of the storm."
The national economy also continues to affect the state. Two years ago, Sen. Young said the Senate worked to close a $10 million budget gap. Last year, the gap was $3 billion. And, Sen. Young does not see the gap getting any better.
"It's my understanding that the revenues for the state may be down," she said. "So, we're going to have to really roll up our sleeves, because we still have to make sure that we are funding education and all the very important programs. And, at the same time, we need to be helping the taxpayers."
Although the Senate is only in session for 57 days this year, Sen. Young said she is a senator 365 days a year. When she is not in Albany, she said she is busy working in her district of nearly 300,000 people.
Additionally, she said she receives several thousand constituent cases per year. When people reach out for help, she works to solve the problem directly or refer them to the proper resource for help.
"I try very hard to be very visible in my communities so that I'm accessible," Sen. Young said. "I certainly feel I can't represent people unless I know what is on their minds, so I'm in touch with them. The 57 days is so we can wrap up any outstanding legislative issues that need to be addressed and also pass the state budget."
Sen. Young said she also spends time with community groups, ones she calls "everyday heroes," when she is not in Albany.
"We also make sure that I'm recognizing people such as veterans, firefighters, our everyday heroes in our communities who deserve recognition," she said. "It's important that we say thank you to them for their service."