ALBANY Ã¢â‚¬â€Though earlier in the week Senate Republicans appeared ready to vote down important Green Jobs/Green New York legislation to create jobs and help New Yorkers make their homes more energy efficient, state Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine won the support of 21 Republican colleagues late Thursday night to pass the bill 52-8.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This is what we need more of in Albany,Ã¢â‚¬Â Sen. Aubertine, sponsor of the bill and chair of both the Senate Agriculture and the Senate Energy and Telecommunications committees. Ã¢â‚¬Å“WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re here to work for the people we represent and this legislation does just thatÃ¢â‚¬â€it creates jobs for our constituents and helps both homeowners and businesses with the upfront cost of becoming more energy efficient. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an encouraging sign to see so many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle set aside politics and vote on the merits of this bill.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Senate Democrats hold a 32-30 majority, but with the absence of Sen. Brian X. Foley, who missed session to attend to the passing of his father, media and supporters of the bill were unsure of whether the Republican Conference would stall the bill simply because they could. Speculation was fueled by a Senate Minority spokespersonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s attempts to undermine the bill will false accusations regarding its intent. Rather than hold the bill until 32 members were present, Sen. Aubertine pushed to keep the bill on the agenda.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I had some great discussions with my Republican colleagues and stressed to them that a good idea does not become a good idea simply because it has the stamp of approval from one party or another,Ã¢â‚¬Â Sen. Aubertine said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was confident that I had the support we needed to pass this bill, regardless of the partisan rhetoric that was flying around Wednesday, Thursday morning and in the debate on the floor. A good idea is a good idea and Green Jobs/Green New York is good for our entire state. With our cold winters and high energy costs, I fully expect that Upstate will especially benefit from this program, creating jobs and saving home and business owners money on their monthly energy bills.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Green Jobs/Green NY will be administered through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and establish workforce training programs in conjunction with the state Department of Labor to prepare thousands of New Yorkers to begin working toward the programÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s goal of making one million homes, businesses and not-for-profits statewide more energy efficient. Home and business owners in communities throughout New York State from Watertown to Montauk and Buffalo to Albany would be eligible for loans, which would be paid back out of the savings realized by making buildings more energy efficient.