November 22, 2009

Can We Talk (Part 2)

I sent the letter below, via email, to my State Senator David Valesky. He's a member of the Democratic leadership in the Senate, holding the position of Vice President Pro Tem. I'll keep you posted on what I hear.

Dear Senator Valesky,

While the Governor and the Legislature are in Albany, ostensibly to work out conflicts and come to resolution on ways to close the $3.2 billion budget deficit, the only concrete action I’ve seen mentioned coming out of the session are two bills which pile on sentences for (1) convicted felons and (2) drunk drivers.

While I suppose the update to Jenna’s Law, and the passing of Leandra’s Law, are worthy issues to have tackled while waiting for the real work of the special session to take place, I’m much more concerned about our economic problems than I am about these two laws. I’m also concerned that we’ve spent upwards of $500,000 since you’ve all been back in session and we have so little to show for it.

Frankly, I’m not convinced that our elected officials will be able to make the hard decisions that are needed to close our deficit and begin putting New York back on the right track. Especially considering the recent change of heart on the new license plates, which could have added some $129 million to the state’s coffers but is now likely off the table, I’m not sure that anyone in Albany understands how to do the right thing for our state.

Here are some specific questions for you, which are similar to the questions I’ve asked Senator DeFrancisco:

  • What specific changes do you fee are needed in the current budget?
  • What specific cuts are you willing to propose or support that will actually reduce spending, not just decrease the increases? For example, education spending? Health care spending? Member items?
  • What specific services are you willing to reduce so we can avoid another budget deficit in the coming fiscal year, which is just around the corner?
  • Will you commit to actually making cuts, rather than just shifting costs (and responsibilities) to local jurisdictions?
  • When will we see the benefit of having a Democratic majority in Albany? Seems like we continue to have gridlock and lack of progress, which is what we had before…
  • Why should I, as a registered Democrat and one of your constituents, continue to support you, rather than either shifting my vote to one of those who will challenge you, either from within the Democratic ranks, or a Republican challenger?

I’m concerned about the direction we’re headed and I’m looking forward to your response.


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