The last few weeks are always a flurry of activity, but amid the hustle and hustle of wrapping up the state legislative session, we must remain focused on what matters — middle-class tax relief, supporting education, and strengthening ethics.
There is no doubt that New York’s families are strapped. Every dollar counts for hardworking residents of this state, but the high cost of living and the highest tax burden in the nation aren’t making things any easier. I am encouraging my Assembly colleagues to make the property-tax cap permanent, coupled with needed mandate relief to assist New York homeowners.
Another concern on the minds of my constituents is the state of education in the Empire State. Recently, we passed reforms to the governor’s teacher-evaluation agenda — his plan did nothing to help our children or the people educating them. Fortunately, my Assembly Republican colleagues and I listened to stakeholders like parents, educators, and school administrators. We have developed the Achieving Pupil Preparedness and Launching Excellence (APPLE) Plan, an education-reform plan based on the experiences of those who best understand public education. With the time we have left in this year’s session, we must adopt more of the legislative solutions in the APPLE Plan to ensure our children have the best and most comprehensive education possible.
Finally, so many of us have been discouraged by headline after headline about politicians breaking the public trust. Business in Albany was sidetracked not once, but twice, by the arrest of legislative leaders and their refusal to transition power so the work of the people could continue. Not only is trust broken, but it also negatively impacts the effectiveness of the legislature.
We must take immediate action to restore the people’s confidence. We have bills that would take the toughest stance on ethics and corruption in the nation and we must pass them now. The Public Officers Accountability Act would create new laws related to corruption and strengthen punishments for lawbreakers. Additionally, it would set term limits for legislative leaders and committee chairs — ending a tradition in Albany where power is concentrated in the hands of just a few. Lastly, I support stripping publicly funded pensions from politicians convicted of felonies. If you break the people’s trust, you will not and should not be rewarded for it.
Marc W. Butler (R,C,I–Newport) is a New York State Assemblyman for the 118th District, which encompasses parts of Oneida, Herkimer, and St. Lawrence counties, as well as all of Hamilton and Fulton counties. Contact him at email@example.com