By State Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine
Last week, the governor delivered his State of the State address in which he hit on some key points that align with what I hope we can achieve this year. Most pressing is the need to rebuild our economy to create jobs, cut spending, reject new taxes or fees, and find ways to meaningfully address rising property taxes.
In this upcoming session and with this budget, there is no getting around the fact that we need to control our spending and change the way Albany has done business for the past 40 years or more. We need reform. We need to enact new methods in the way we put together our stateÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s budget, including performance-based or zero-based budgeting so we can end the cycle of just taking the previous yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s budget and adding on to it.
We must set aside a culture where bureaucracy spends money just to ensure that funding will come in the following year. And this starts this year with substantial cuts to our budgetÃ¢â‚¬â€cuts that should surprise no one as there has been more than enough warning about the dire straits our stateÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s finances are in. We took steps last year to lessen the deficits this year, but it does not change the fact that these deficits remain and must be addressed without further burdening hard working New Yorkers.
Additionally, ethics reform is also part of the changes we must enact to put our government back on the right track and regain your trust. Certainly the recent high profile case involving the former Senate Majority Leader only served to highlight the need to strengthen our ethics laws. The governorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s proposals were wide ranging and far reaching, but between ethics and campaign finance reform we have the opportunity to take steps toward fixing the culture of Albany.
Last year, I was proud to support reforms that took power from the leadership down structure of our state capital and put it back in the hands of individual lawmakers, opening up opportunities for true bipartisan cooperation. This past week, I followed through on my commitment to bipartisanship by taking a new role in the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee as ranking majority member so one of my Republican colleagues can serve as chair.
I am working to forge a partnership that looks beyond politics. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve said time and time again that good ideas should not be judged by what party endorses them, but by what they do for the people. Last year was productive in terms of significant energy legislation, and I enjoyed my time as Energy Chair, touring the state discuss how low cost power programs can better generate economic development. I will continue to work toward long term reforms of these programs and advance other measures to ensure our stateÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s energy policy is responsible and promotes economic growth here and throughout the state.
I remain chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, the Upstate Caucus, the Rural Resources and Water Resource Needs commissions. My priorities continue to be those of people here in Central and Northern New York, and across this state: We need to create and preserve jobs, control spending, and lower our property tax burden. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m looking forward to working with my colleagues and the governor to address these issues and make the tough choices that have to be made to keep New York strong.