By State Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine
Putting people ahead of politics should be the mission of every lawmaker and elected official. After all, good ideas are not the exclusive property of one party or another. A good idea is simply a good idea.
Partisan politics and extremist agendas move us away from the center, where most of us stand. As lawmakers, we must not allow ourselves to be pulled in one direction or another away from the people we represent just because one group or another is louder, makes bigger campaign contributions or has caught the attention of the media.
As our state Senator for about two and a half years, I have worked to represent all of us, supporting and opposing legislation from both sides of the political aisle. My goal is and always has been to do the right thing. We all have our own viewpoints coming from our own experiences and background and no two people can or should agree on everything. However, we should be able trust each other enough to work together for the common good.
Certainly, bad decisions over the past few decades in our state government, our federal government and in the private sector have contributed to an economic downturn, huge deficits and budget shortfalls. We have every right to be angry and it is only natural to feel compelled to find someone or something to blame. But at the end of the day, hunkering down in one camp or another and refusing to work together toward common ground gets us nowhere. We need to work toward being part of the solution, or else we risk making things worse.
More than 50 bills Iâ€™ve sponsored have passed the Senate this year and every single one passed with broad bipartisan votes. Iâ€™ve also been the lone no vote on bills and worked to secure opposition ensuring the defeat of bills that would have infringed on gun owners and crippled our farms. Iâ€™ve also worked to improve legislation to make it work for better for Upstate. I stood with all Upstate members of the Senate in demanding and twice passing a property tax cap that now awaits action in the Assembly, including a proposal to cap individual tax bills at a percentage of a homeownerâ€™s income.
The late and still not perfect budget we passed to close our $9 billion budget gap, which was the result of those mistakes over the past few decades, did not add any permanent tax increases on middle income families. I worked to restore funding for our parks and historic sites, reduce state general fund spending, ensure a future for the prison in Ogdensburg, and all without adding to our stateâ€™s already high debt.
But with that, I have also worked with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to introduce and pass legislation creating incentives for weatherization of homes that will create thousands of new jobs Upstate, and also to push reforms the stateâ€™s successful Power for Jobs program, which we extended another year, to move it toward becoming a job creation program with a focus on Upstate.
The best ideas come from trusting that we are all working toward the same goals for the common good, always being willing to sit down with and listen to opposing viewpoints, and putting in the work to iron out the best option for the people.