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OPINION: Overlooked Priorities Mark a Disappointing Albany Session

By Will Barclay


As legislators, we are charged with developing legislation to improve public safety, the economy, and the quality of life here in New York state. Unfortunately, over the last six months, not much of the legislation that passed moved the needle on any of these fundamental considerations.

 New York state is one of the least affordable places to live in the U.S., and the work we did during [the budget and legislative process] was often ineffectual. We, again, passed a budget that spends a record amount of taxpayer money — this time $229 billion — but left out of the spending plan was any meaningful tax relief for middle-class families and a plan to curb rampant outmigration thinning the state’s population. 

 Instead of focusing our time and energy on solving the spike in crime plaguing our communities and making the state more inviting for businesses and job creators, we instead passed legislation like “Clean Slate” — making it easier to hide violent crime from landlords and employers along with a bevy of other measures making it easier to be a criminal and prisoner in New York.

 Additionally, next to nothing was done to prepare communities around the state for the massive influx of migrants being sent here from the southern border. The lack of planning and communication between New York City officials and their upstate counterparts has been astonishing, and even as lawmakers returned to Albany for two additional days of voting, there is still no roadmap for this crisis going forward.

 It is telling how poorly a legislative session went when its best attributes are what was left out. As such, I am proud of members of the Assembly Minority Conference for working to help defeat Gov. Hochul’s ill-advised housing plan, which would have bypassed the local laws and placed an enormous undue burden on municipalities around the state. We will continue to advocate protecting the interests of municipalities around the state as they are the backbone of our communities.

 There is no doubt the legislature, as a whole, could have done better by New Yorkers. The partisan agenda of one-party rule failed to include measures on inflation relief, safety in our schools, support for law enforcement, or reducing the everyday cost of living. But our Assembly Minority Conference is undeterred and will continue to fight for a stronger, more resilient economy, a more friendly tax and business climate, and a safer New York.                                        

William (Will) A. Barclay, 54, Republican, is the New York Assembly minority leader and represents the 120th New York Assembly District, which encompasses all of Oswego County, as well as parts of Jefferson and Cayuga counties.

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