Legislative Column by Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin (R,C,I-Melrose)

As the holidays draw to a close, lawmakers will soon convene in Albany to begin the 2013 legislative session. Now is the time to capitalize on the momentum gained over the last two years so that we can make New York a pro-growth, pro-jobs state that the rest of our country can look up to.

Since I first took office in 2011, we’ve made New York more affordable by passing a property tax cap, capping prescription co-pays for seniors and providing low-cost energy to job creators. This was made possible because rather than repeating the mistakes of old, we spent responsibly and eliminated a combined $13.5 billion budget deficit without broad-based increases in taxes and fees. As a result, we were able to increase aid for local schools and agricultural programs while securing a $63 million economic development package for the Capital Region. With companies like Regeneron planning to add 300 jobs in East Greenbush, we’ve seen tangible results in our efforts to create local jobs and get our families back to work.

There are major issues left to address as we approach the 2013 legislative session, however, and key among them is unfunded mandate relief. Unfunded mandates remain a massive problem for local governments across our state. Too many legislators in Albany believe they know best how counties and municipalities should spend their money. These burdens crush local governments’ ability to be creative with their budgets and try new approaches while forcing them to raise taxes on their residents to pay for the burdensome mandates. Local taxpayers are forced to shoulder the load of these unfunded mandates much like Atlas in the Greek tragedy, who was forced by Zeus to hold the world on his shoulders for eternity. When state officials decide how local dollars should be spent, they have effectively usurped power from local officials who know their towns best. I will continue to fight for the local governments and schools in our district and across the state to relieve them of these nonsense mandates.

Though progress has been made to improve New York’s business climate, certain areas of state government have yet to get on board. For example, when unelected bureaucrats at the New York State Thruway Authority (NYSTA) proposed to increase tolls on commercial trucks by a staggering 45 percent, they reverted to the bad-old-days of state government where big spending was the norm and taxpayers were viewed as piggy banks. I have held public meetings to put pressure on the NYSTA to relent on these unnecessary, anti-growth toll hikes and continued to apply pressure to these reckless bureaucrats until they backed off from their egregious proposal last month.

I am proud of how far our state has come over the last two years, returning accountability and fiscal sanity to the Capitol. I believe that our families and businesses have made a real impact on the common-sense policies state government has adopted, and by continuing to work together this year, there is much more that we can accomplish.

Assemblyman McLaughlin represents the 107th district, which consists of parts of Rensselaer, Columbia and Washington counties. For more information, please visit Assemblyman McLaughlin’s official website.


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