State lawmakers 2020: A look ahead

31 Dec 2019 | 02:13

Assemblyman Karl Brabenec: ‘New York State is at a crossroads’

The 98th Assembly District includes the towns of Palm Tree, Deerpark, Greenville, Minisink, Warwick, Monroe, Tuxedo and portions of Ramapo.

1. What do you expect during 2020 in terms of growth and/or development? Are there local projects on the horizon? Improvements to infrastructure? New businesses?

I am very excited for LEGOLAND to open in Goshen next summer (July 4th, 2020). There are also numerous businesses and projects that are being built all over Orange County. I am proud to work with my partners at every level of government to ensure that businesses have the opportunity to open and thrive in Orange County, but specifically in the fighting 98th Assembly District.

New York State Government needs to become part of the solution instead of the problem, and I will continue to fight for that.

2. What will be the most important and/or critical issue (or problem) you and the residents of your community will face in the new year? What can you do about it?

Honestly, the most critical issue for the residents of the 98th Assembly District is the misguided focus of the leadership in the Assembly and Senate focusing on Downstate issues, and not enough focus on Upstate New York.

Legislation passed by the majorities in both houses of the Legislature continues to hurt seniors, farmers, homeowners, and all law abiding citizens in the 98th Assembly District.

In the coming session, I plan to fight the efforts of New York City Legislators to further erode our rights, raise our property tax burden, and make New York State residents less safe.

New York State is at a crossroads, and I pledge to use my office to point us in the right direction for safety and success. The residents of the 98th Assembly District deserve no less.

Assemblyman Colin Schmitt: ‘Protecting our land, water and natural resources’

The 99th Assembly District which includes the Town of Stony Point in Rockland County and the Towns of Wawayanda, Goshen, Hamptonburgh, Chester, Blooming Grove, New Windsor, Cornwall, Highlands and Woodbury in Orange County.

Q. What do you expect during 2020 in terms of growth and/or development? Are there local projects on the horizon? Improvements to infrastructure? New businesses?

A. 2020 offers a lot of promise for my district and our entire region. I am advocating for several critical infrastructure projects including the Route 17 third lane expansion which is a top bipartisan priority.

I was able to recently announce significant funding for water infrastructure projects in my district that will have profound impacts on the daily lives of countless local residents in the coming year. I also announced regional economic development council awards which will be used for a variety of projects related to economic development, tourism, agriculture and the arts in our communities.

I will continue to work with local officials, business leaders and school officials to bring our fair share of funding back to our district, help relieve our local property tax burden and ensure economic prosperity benefits all residents.

Q. What will be the most important and/or critical issue (or problem) you and the residents of your community will face in the new year? What can you do about it?

Of paramount importance is protecting our land, water and natural resources. I am proud to be leading the land preservation efforts for our region in Albany as well as fighting for clean water and combating the varied water crises we are facing.

Taxes and cost of living continue to be a significant burden, driving many of our friends, family and neighbors to leave this state. I was proud to deliver that permanent property tax cap this year and look to expand on my tax relief efforts with additional planks of my NY Tax Relief Act.

State Senator Jen Metzger: ‘We protect our farms and rural heritage while diversifying the economy’

The 42nd State Senate District, which runs from Orange County to Ulster County, includes the Towns of Tuxedo and Warwick.

Q. What do you expect during 2020 in terms of growth and/or development? Are there local projects on the horizon? Improvements to infrastructure? New businesses?

A. We have a real economic opportunity in the production of hemp and CBD products, and as Senate Agriculture Chair, I applaud the efforts of local leaders like Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton, who have helped position Warwick and the region to capitalize on this opportunity for farmers and local businesses up the value chain. Recently signed into law, I sponsored comprehensive hemp legislation that will enable our region’s industry to grow and flourish. I have also nominated the Town of Warwick for a $250,000 grant to purchase specialized equipment for hemp production that can be rented to farmers, supporting the local economy and tax base. By working together, we protect our farms and rural heritage while diversifying the economy.

Q. What will be the most important and/or critical issue (or problem) you and the residents of your community will face in the new year? What can you do about it?

A. The opioid crisis is taking a devastating toll on families and communities, and Orange County continues to rank high in opioid-related deaths statewide. Addressing this crisis is a top priority of mine, and in the Senate we established an opioids task force to identify gaps and needs and develop legislative solutions. Based on input from numerous hearings over the last six months, legislation to improve access to prevention, treatment, and recovery will be introduced early in this new session. One impactful change we can all make is breaking the stigma of addiction and recognizing it for what it is — a disease.

State Sen. James Skoufis: 'Improving the Hudson Valley’s long-neglected, crumbling infrastructure'

The 39th State Senate district includes the towns of Monroe, Palm Tree and Woodbury.

1. What do you expect during 2020 in terms of growth and/or development? Are there local projects on the horizon? Improvements to infrastructure? New businesses?

Every year since being elected to State government, I have focused on the importance of improving the Hudson Valley’s long-neglected, crumbling infrastructure. In 2020, I will be fighting to advance a number of infrastructure projects that will specifically alleviate the congestion caused by overdevelopment occurring in our area.

Residents are desperate for traffic relief and we must act quickly in order to improve our communities’ quality of life. It’s essential that any new residential or commercial development is smart-growth and well-planned, which includes improvements to infrastructure and careful consideration of impacts on the environment.

This year, we have an opportunity because the Department of Transportation’s five-year capital plan will be negotiated. Therefore, time is of the essence to loudly and strongly advocate for infrastructure projects that we’ve been waiting for in the Hudson Valley. I’m proud that we were finally able to get the Exit 131 interchange upgraded, alleviating an area that is all-too-familiar with unmanageable traffic - there’s much more to do, however.

Some projects that I will be pushing for are:

• Expanding Route 17 to three lanes in each way: Recently, I got a commitment from the Senate Transportation Committee’s Chairman to publicly support this project and fight for it alongside me.

• Repaving Route 17M: Everyone who drives over Route 17M knows that it is riddled with potholes and makes what should be an easy commute, a stressful one. This year, I’ll be pushing for funds for a full repaving of Route 17M.

• Train Station at Woodbury Common: Last year, I secured $5 million from the state's railroad fund for a new train station at Woodbury Common. Additionally, I secured a commitment from the MTA to not only support the project but also provide any technical expertise required to move the train station forward. I’ll be fighting through this entire legislative session to continue moving forward on this project. Between traffic relief and environmental impacts, a train station at Woodbury Common makes a lot of sense - and no further expansion at the mall should be allowed without it.

2. What will be the most important and/or critical issue (or problem) you and the residents of your community will face in the new year? What can you do about it?

Taxes continue to be the utmost priority facing many of my constituents. This year, while some of our area’s very own state representatives unthinkably voted against the property tax cap, I led the successful charge to finally make it permanent, ensuring we will always at least have a lid on the increases. We’ve capped our taxes, but now we must work towards really cutting them because our families, retirees, and future generations deserve a livable state to call home. That’s why I will be advocating to deliver more funding to our schools, which is important for our students’ education but also relieves pressure on local property taxpayers.

On state income taxes, families making under $300,000 will receive a tax cut, making sure more money stays in middle-class pockets. I strongly supported this effort and will keep pushing for this type of targeted relief.

Ultimately, my goal is to completely reform the way we fund local services to move away from property taxes entirely, and for the first time, Albany is having substantive discussions about how exactly to do this. Alongside the Senate Education Committee Chairwoman, I participated in roundtables with stakeholders in the Hudson Valley and across the state to review how to update the way New York funds education; I was a strong voice during those discussions and will continue to be one as we head into this year’s legislative session.

Finally, and importantly, amidst the backdrop of an increasingly partisan political environment that is toxic for our country, I pledge to continue to work with anyone in any party for our communities and always lead with a firm bipartisan foot forward. I’m ever-grateful for Monroe-Woodbury constituents affording me the privilege of representing them in the State Senate and I wish everyone a successful 2020!