As a new year begins, I want to take a moment to wish everyone a happy and healthy 2022 as well as share a ‘year in review’ of sorts – what the work we’ve been doing in Albany meant for local families last year, and what the next legislative session may have in store.
Springtime was budget time in Albany, and I went to bat repeatedly for Orange County, securing over $61 million for Monroe-Woodbury CSD, my alma mater–an increase of $3.7 million (or 12%) over last year. For the first time ever, local schools had the option to receive state dollars to start Universal Pre-K programs, and we provided for over 400 first-ever Pre-K slots in MWCSD. I also fought hard to include permanent aid and incentives to municipalities (AIM) funding for the Village of Woodbury in the state’s budget this year.
On the legislative side, I voted my conscience–rather than the party line–more times than any of my colleagues this year, and I passed the most bills of any Senator (58 this year). Highlights include a series of two bills designed to improve safety in nursing homes, legislation paving the way for fairer redistricting, and a bill to require better water testing to prevent the kind of PFOA/PFOS contamination our Newburgh neighbors have faced. All of these measures were signed into law by Governor Hochul in recent months.
One of the most rewarding parts of this job is my ability to bring your tax dollars right back home to support your community. To that end, I’m thrilled to see the renovation of the Woodbury Town Court well underway – made possible by a $300,000 grant I secured. I’ve also been working with four Orange County municipalities, including the villages of Monroe and Woodbury, to distribute a total of $400,000 for our “Redefining Our Downtowns” initiative. You’ll be hearing more about the exciting projects selected by each village’s citizen committee to improve their downtowns.
When the Woodbury Town Board was considering cancelling a referendum vote for the pool renovation due to COVID-era in-person election rules, I secured a waiver from the Governor’s office to continue with the vote. Locals can look forward to the pool reopening this summer as a result.
I’ve recently had productive conversations with DOT and am encouraged that they are moving toward a full repaving of Route 17M. I’ll continue advocating for this important infrastructure work until it gets done because it’s long overdue and a basic quality of life issue.
The early days of 2021 brought a renewal of COVID-19 restrictions, but they also offered us access to life-saving vaccines. New variants may continue to emerge, but getting fully vaccinated is the best tool we currently have to combat this virus. Please make an appointment today to help protect your loved ones, if not yourself. We can’t lose sight of the importance of easy, regular testing either, which is why just last week I joined fellow state representatives from the Hudson Valley in calling on Governor Hochul to open a mass state testing facility in our area.
My team and I are always available to lend a hand. In the past year alone, our casework team has helped over 2,900 people get the unemployment they were owed, and over 1,070 neighbors connect with state agencies, dispute utility bills, or work out other complex problems. Please don’t hesitate to reach out by phone (845-567-1270), email (email@example.com), or on social media (@JamesSkoufis) if you or someone you know could use assistance.
I’ll continue to work tirelessly to make sure Orange County communities have the resources they need to be successful in the year ahead.
Wishing you and yours a spectacular 2022,
State Senator, 39th District