Dear e-News Readers:
Our legislative session is in full swing in Albany, which means I spend three days a week at the Capitol. My office has already received hundreds of emails on dozens of topics, detailing concerns about legislation and spending priorities in the budget due April 1. I try my best to take all of this input into consideration as decisions are made. Please have a safe February; this part of winter always seems to drag on.
1. Budget Season Begins in Albany
With the Governor having given both her State of the State address and Budget Presentation, we are busy analyzing the Governor’s priorities and formulating our own. There are numerous issues already being discussed, including housing, criminal justice reforms, and workforce development. I am especially pleased with the Governor’s proposal to provide a massive reinvestment in mental health services. Additionally, as Chair of the Agriculture & Food Committee, I’ll be working on developing a strong budget for our farmers, food businesses, and ag educators (like Cooperative Extension).
2. Nursing Home Crisis in Focus
I joined colleagues and industry professionals at the Capitol to bring attention to the financial and staffing crises facing our nursing homes. They have been sounding the alarm for years and have now reached a breaking point. Wait times for beds have gone up significantly, staffing shortages are common, and many facilities are scaling back or are going out of business. We owe it to our aging population to increase the reimbursements these facilities receive, and to review the entire continuum of care for NY’s seniors. This will remain a top priority of mine as we begin to enter into budget negotiations.
3. Southern Tier Community Center Opens
4. Recognized as Policy Maker of the Year by Engineers
5. Council of Agricultural Organizations Convenes
I spoke at the Empire State Council of Agricultural Organization’s meeting on January 13th. The Council is made up of representatives from every major ag organization in the state, meeting annually to establish their legislative priorities for the year. They share many of the same concerns expressed by the overall business community; the outstanding federal Unemployment Insurance debt, increases in the minimum wage, and the cost of energy and supply chain challenges. It’s important that their voices are heard in Albany because we all know the expression “No Farms, No Food.”