OLEAN - The New York state legislative session starts in earnest in January, and some issues will be pressing for those in the Senate. According to 57th District Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, guns, tax relief and the completion of Route 219 are just the beginning.
Talking to members of the Cattaraugus County Tea Party last week, Young addressed the mission to repeal the NY SAFE Act, saying that, as one moves closer to the downstate region, support for the act increases, despite nearly every upstate county legislature passing resolutions in support of a repeal.
"As I drive my district, I am very happy to see all of the yard signs to repeal the NY SAFE Act," she said. "We need to do more of that. Those signs are keeping the issue on people's minds. The conversation is still going in Albany."
Young said the act not only runs into Constitutional challenges, but does not address the problems faced in gun violence. She said treatment for the mentally ill would go a long way in lowering gun crime, as well as lessen the number of people incarcerated.
Even if the Senate passes repeal legislation on the bill, Young said, the Assembly is a tough place to garner support for the same result, and there would be very little chance of the governor signing the repeal.
Another step in the process to control gun violence situations pertains specifically to schools, and is a solid program that can help protect students and school staff, Young said.
She said she will be working hard in the coming session to restore funding to the School Resource Officer program.
When the program was funded, going back to the George Pataki administration, Young said schools were safer places for students to be able to learn. Under Eliot Spitzer, funding was decreased in an attempt to do away with the program.
The full defunding happened under David Paterson, Young said.
This resulted in many schools around the state losing the armed officer in the school to deal with potentially dangerous situation, Young said.
"I will be pushing very hard to restore SRO budget funding in this budget year," she said. "We have to continue to have our voices heard."
Young said she would be returning to Albany, in the coming days, to meet with Gov. Andrew Cuomo on dedicating funds for the completion of the Route 219 corridor, as it passes from Springville to the state line, in Limestone. The project is not only touted as a travel corridor that will bring more commerce into the region, but as a fundamental piece of a highway system that would run from the Canadian border into Florida.
Young said the completion of the highway is "only right." Citing downstate infrastructure repairs, to include work being done to the Tappan Zee Bridge, she said the completion of Route 219 as a four-lane highway would "be an investment in our area."
While the highway focus will be taking place in December, and not technically part of the legislative calendar, Young said she and her GOP peers will be "pushing hard in January."
"We have some problems here, in New York," Young said. "New York state is too expensive to do business. And our greatest export from our state? That would be our young people."
She said part of the way to start fixing the problems identified will be unveiled soon, as part of what she called a broad-based tax relief proposal. Without getting into details, Young said proposals will be made that will simplify the New York State tax code, as well as reduce taxes on all retirement income.
To go along with the relief effort, Young said she and others in the state Senate will be standing in opposition to a proposal she said has emanated from the governor's office, in taxpayer-financed campaign funding. The principle funnels solely taxpayer dollars to candidates for elected office as a campaign finance mode. New York City currently operates under a form of the principle, Young said.
"This is not the direction to go," Young said. "The governor's plan gives your hard-earned tax money to candidates that you may not agree with, to run for office."
Young said the statewide plan that would give $200 million out to candidates would encourage corruption among those seeking public office, invoking the name of Anthony Weiner as an example of the candidates that could, in fact have under the New York City finance rules, receive the taxpayer funds.