By State Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine (D-Cape Vincent)
The warm weather this past week brought a pleasant close to the winter, ushering in spring. The weather has farmers gearing up for springâ€™s work, but it also gave families throughout the district a pleasant setting for Easter observances. Likewise, sportsmen and women got a great start to the trout and salmon fishing season, and had a chance to hit the trails, be it on foot hiking, or on an ATV run.
The outdoors is a critical piece of our way of life here in Central and Northern New York. It makes the constant snow and cold bearable to more than just the winter sports lovers, when you know that sunshine is on its way and throughout the region, we have the open spaces, parks, forests, rivers, streams and lakes to enjoy.
This winter in our stateâ€™s capitol has involved a great deal of wrangling over our stateâ€™s finances and debate about how to best craft a spending plan for 2010-11. This continues, but the stark change in weather and the newness of spring are a reminder that the people are best served when we work positively to get things done. No matter how unbearable this fiscal crisis may seem, there is light at the end of the tunnel and better days are ahead of us.
Though we have passed extenders to go beyond the April 1 budget deadline, weâ€™ve made great progress with Senate and Assembly budget proposals now on the table officially. Both houses of the Legislature have moved items around to reprioritize and improve on the spending plan proposed by the governor in January. Whatâ€™s shaping up for a vote in the coming weeks will not be perfect, but as Iâ€™ve said throughout the last few months, what I am working to accomplish is a budget my colleagues and I can vote â€œYesâ€ on because it protects our top priorities.
One of those priorities is the snowmobile trail fund. The governor proposed language that would have allowed a portion of the fees collected from snowmobile registrations to be used to maintain all kinds of recreational trails. This is not, and has never been, intended for just any trail. Snowmobilers throughout this state and from other states pay these registration fees (and asked to pay them) so that there could be money available for snowmobile trails, and snowmobile trails alone.
In 2008, the governor swept $1 million from the snowmobile fund. I worked with my colleagues and we pushed back. That money was returned. He has tried at other times again, but weâ€™ve pushed back. Now, we have pushed back on this proposal to use snowmobile trail money on other trails. I have long supported our snowmobile industry, and Iâ€™ve even allowed for trails to run on my farm land in Cape Vincent for quite a few years now. This is why I was honored recently to have been named the New York State Snowmobile Associationâ€™s â€œLegislator of the Yearâ€ for 2010.
However, our work is not done. I will continue to stand up for the issues that matter to us here in Central and Northern New York, both throughout this budget process and the legislative session. Whether by clearly articulating that there are better options than stealing from a dedicated fund, or by bringing a gun control supporting lawmaker upstate to a shooting range, I will continue to work to educate and inform my colleagues about our way of life by showing them in a positive way, why itâ€™s so important to us.