The 2017 Legislative session is fast approaching and I expect to see a continuation of ethics reform efforts. We need to pass the pension forfeiture bill that we passed in June 2016 so that it will be on the November 2017 ballot as a Constitutional Amendment for the public to vote on.
As I indicated last year, I have been pushing for pension forfeiture along with term limits for legislative leaders since I was first elected. These reforms are long overdue and the citizens of New York deserve leadership that is transparent and honest.
We must continue to fund our public schools at a level that allows our students the opportunity to obtain a great education and be competitive with students from across the country. Last year we were successful in eliminating the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) in the budget and this year we will be focusing on increasing the Foundation Aid for our schools.
We will continue to address the critical shortage of home health care professionals in the North Country. I will continue to advocate for funding for adequate home and community-based care throughout New York state.
Infrastructure continues to be a major need across the state, especially our water and wastewater systems. Many of our communities are under consent orders from the state Department of Environmental Conservation that requires them to address water/wastewater violations in a timely manner. In many instances, these small communities cannot afford to replace their current system and must rely on money from the state. We need to make additional resources available to our smaller communities to ensure clean water for our residents.
We are continuing our push for broadband and cellular service in our Adirondack communities that are underserved. This service is vital to our children’s education, the success of our businesses and our public safety. I continue to discuss this issue with the governor and his staff on a regular basis.
Addressing invasive species in our waterways will also be a priority. We must continue to educate boaters about the importance of keeping our lakes clean of invasive species.
With the increase in the minimum wage we need to provide incentives that help small businesses offset this cost. We need to lessen regulations and make it a pro-business climate for our small businesses.