With the inauguration of new Governor David Paterson, we now have a second chance to transform Albany and recapture the sense of promise and opportunity that was unrealized by his predecessor.
Senator Craig Johnson
But, just as I have done during my entire career in public service, I will continue to fight to make sure that the needs of our communities are being addressed.
I've worked with David Paterson when I was in the Nassau County Legislature and later, when I became Senator for the 7th District. He is a fair man, focused on building consensus. Also, I know that Governor Paterson is committed to repairing the dynamics that have paralyzed state government and ushering in new reforms that were previously held hostage by partisan bickering.
I am equally excited about the prospect of a refocused executive branch agenda that is consistent with the needs of Long Island, especially in light of the fact that Governor Paterson has Long Island roots.
Over this past year, I have fought the Spitzer administration on its support of the MTA/ LIRR's controversial Third Track expansion project, its pursuit of an education funding formula that benefited other parts of the state at the expense of Long Island schools, and its negotiation of a thoroughbred racing franchise that ignored the communities surrounding the Belmont Park Race Track. I was also the first member of my conference to oppose the former governor's plan to issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. _ _In the coming days, I hope to sit down with Governor Paterson, who is the product of Nassau County's public schools, to discuss the issues facing our region.
First on the list is the current property tax crisis, which has put the squeeze on Long Island's middle class, priced seniors out of their own homes and made it virtually impossible for our young people to settle in the communities that they grew up in. Tied to that is the need to make sure that Long Island schools get their fair share of school aid.
Instead of truly addressing this issue, this current Senate Majority has simply given lip service to providing tax relief, while doing nothing to ease the unfunded mandates on local governments and schools that remain a key cause of soaring property taxes. When the Senate Democrats attempted to bring a bill prohibiting these mandates to the floor, the Senate Republicans blocked it.
This majority has also ignored the sub prime lending meltdown that placed tens of thousands of New Yorkers in danger of foreclosure, and has plunged our economy into recession. My conference introduced a comprehensive legislative package in Spring 2007 that would deal with this crisis and crack down on the predatory lending practices that drove much of this industry. The majority, however, has seen fit to let this legislation languish in committee.
In my view, the majority had used its bitter stalemate with former Governor Spitzer to justify its inaction on these, and other, vitally important issues.
It is my hope that with this new administration, the Senate Republicans will have no choice but to join us in tackling these pressing problems.
As I did with the previous governor, I promise to stand with Governor Paterson when he is right, and stand up to him when I think he is not acting in the best interests of the residents of the 7th Senate District and all Long Islanders.
I take very seriously the pledge that I made during my last campaign, and renewed at the beginning of the New Year.
The pledge: I am accountable to you and no one else.
I remain committed to this promise, and to you.
New York State Senator Craig Johnson