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OPINION: State Leaders Must Listen to the Public When Setting the 2023 Agenda

By Will Barclay


With the beginning of each new legislative session, it’s tradition to hear members of the New York Legislature and the governor lay out their goals and outline the policies they deem most valuable for the state’s residents. Sometimes these ideas are rooted in common sense, and other times they are merely lip service. Gov. Kathy Hochul recently offered her vision for New York in her State of the State address, but there are significant concerns that plan favors lofty ideas over practical solutions.

There is widespread support for some of the priorities outlined by the governor in her State of the State address. Efforts to improve the way New York handles mental illness, reducing the costs of childcare, and pledging not to raise taxes are all commendable goals. But much more needs to be done.

In recent months, polls have indicated New Yorkers believe the state is headed in the wrong direction and key issues remain unaddressed. Supporting this discontent, recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows New York state lost more than 400,000 people in the past two years — the worst in the nation. This is not sustainable. If we continue to rank at or near the bottom for outmigration, our communities, businesses and educational institutions will suffer. It’s a trend that has been ignored for years, and it’s simply unacceptable to allow it to continue.

Affordability and the cost of living is crushing families and violent crime is plaguing communities across the state. These issues must be addressed without delay. The executive’s budget proposal and budget negotiations are just weeks away. I encourage all parties involved to find common ground on common-sense legislation and policies that will make a difference for New York’s 20 million residents. Once again, my colleagues in the Assembly Minority Conference and I will promote proposals that address the quality of life in New York. These measures include:

• Improving public safety;

• Creating more opportunities for children and families;

• Strengthening our schools and learning environments;

• Bolstering our health-care system’s capabilities and preparedness;

• Improving infrastructure and rural resources;

• Ensuring our farmers prosper; and

• Increasing transparency in government.

As elected officials, we have the tools and resources at our disposal — not to mention the responsibility — to deliver solutions to the state’s most-pressing issues. If the governor truly hears and cares about what New Yorkers are thinking, she will work with Republicans and Democrats, alike, to deliver a state budget that benefits every resident. New Yorkers have diverse needs and opinions and they have elected us to act on their behalf and represent their unique views — that is exactly what we are going to do.                                     

William (Will) A. Barclay, 53, 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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