Assemblyman Andy Goodell (R,C,I-West Ellicott) recently received the endorsement of the Chautauqua County Republican Committee in his re-election bid for the state Assembly. Citing his strong efforts to create jobs, reduce taxes, improve education, reform welfare and support local residents the Republican Committee unanimously backed Goodell for a third term in the Assembly.
"I'm tremendously thankful to the residents of Chautauqua County for allowing me the opportunity to represent them in the Assembly," Goodell said. "Working closely as a team with (state) Sen. Cathy Young and others, we have made tremendous progress in restoring fiscal responsibility to state government, including four on-time balanced budgets, substantial tax cuts for business, and the lowest personal tax rates in 40 years. We also enacted cuts in utility taxes."
Reflecting this progress, New York state's overall tax ranking climbed above both California and New Jersey this year. "Although New York state no longer has the highest average taxes in the nation, we need to implement substantial broad-based tax cuts to dramatically reduce our overall tax burden and bring New York much closer to the national average," Goodell emphasized.
Goodell also noted his emphasis on economic development. "We have helped to improve the business climate in New York, which has moved up considerably this year, and have worked hard on a bipartisan basis with local officials to help local companies such as NRG and Lake Shore Hospital." Goodell was recently named to the Farm Bureau "Circle of Friends" for his strong support of agriculture. He also supported funding to fight invasive species to help maintain Chautauqua Lake and keep thousands of local tourism jobs thriving.
"We need to continue our efforts to make Chautauqua County more business competitive in order to reduce job losses, like those experienced with the decision by Carriage House to build a new plant elsewhere, and to build a stronger and better local economy," Goodell said. "I look forward to working closely with local officials and business, civic and union leaders to improve our economy."
Fortunately, New York state is starting to make progress. Recently, the independent nonpartisan Tax Foundation released a special report indicating that the business tax climate in New York jumped from 25th place to 4th place in national rankings as the result of the recent tax cuts enacted in the 2014 budget.
Reflecting strong bipartisan co-operation, Goodell is a cosponsor of a bipartisan bill to reduce health insurance costs for small businesses and a bipartisan bill to develop a career and technical diploma program. Goodell is currently cosponsoring several other bipartisan bills covering a wide array of subjects. Last year, eight bipartisan bills cosponsored by Goodell became law, as well as another five bills that he sponsored alone.
Welfare reform is another priority for Goodell. "Our welfare system is deeply flawed," Goodell said. "While we need to be compassionate and helpful, welfare should only provide temporary assistance for people who were facing tough times, not a permanent way of life." Goodell is sponsoring several welfare reform initiatives, including:
Requiring teenagers to actively attend school or GED classes in order to be eligible for welfare benefits,
Allowing social services districts to conduct random drug testing to ensure that welfare recipients are not wasting tax dollars on illegal drugs and to ensure that they are employable,
Streamlining the fair hearing process to remove able-bodied welfare recipients from the welfare rolls when they refuse to be involved in job training or job experience programs, and
Bringing Medicaid benefits in line with those offered in the private sector.
In other issues, Goodell was a leading voice against the poorly drafted SAFE Act, speaking out against the measure and working to reform the flaws in the legislation after its passage.
During the 2014 state budget process he voted to help senior citizens by expanding eligibility for the EPIC prescription drug program; increasing funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; and supporting other senior programs.
Although Goodell fought hard to increase funding for Chautauqua County schools and increased student aid at JCC, he has strongly opposed providing free college education to jail inmates and he voted against taxpayer-funded tuition assistance to illegal immigrants. "We need to increase support for law-abiding taxpayers, not those who violate our laws," Goodell said.
Goodell graduated from Williams College with degrees in political economics and mathematics. He also graduated from Cornell Law School with the American Jurisprudence Award in Administrative Law. After serving as county attorney, Goodell was elected as county executive in 1989 and served eight years, cutting property taxes for six years in a row while building the county's financial strength. Unemployment was also at a record low level during that period. He then served as the managing partner in the law firm of Goodell & Rankin in Jamestown, before being elected to the state Assembly in 2010. He has been active in many community organizations.
Goodell lives with his wife Lisa Goodell, executive director of the Chautauqua Blind Association, and has three grown daughters, a stepson and several grandchildren.