eNews: January 2022

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Dear e-News Reader:

As we head into February, I’m hoping we’ll continue to see a decline in COVID cases and that we’re turning the corner on the pandemic. January was very busy with the new legislative session beginning and budget negotiations underway.  There are many opportunities for federal and state resources to come our way for expedited tax relief, improved health care delivery, infrastructure, school aid and more. As always, if you have any questions please contact my office at 607-723-9047.

Best wishes to all,


Session Opens with Gov. Hochul’s Remarks

During the first week of January, Governor Hochul delivered the State of the State address outlining her policy goals for the year. She also released her budget proposal which includes funding to support the healthcare workforce, an additional $2.1 billion in school aid, and a series of tax cuts for the middle class. Overall, New York’s financial outlook is strong thanks in part to increases in federal COVID relief funding. The Assembly and Senate will now review the Governor’s budget and submit our own proposals for consideration. To read more about the budget: https://www.budget.ny.gov/


Letter to Governor regarding “SUNY Flagship” ProposalThere are four University Centers in the SUNY system: Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, and Stony Brook. In the State of the State, it was proposed that the University at Buffalo and Stony Brook University be named SUNY flagship institutions, leaving Binghamton University and the University at Albany in a lower tier. This proposal would put Binghamton University at a unique disadvantage in terms of securing research grants and recruiting top students. Binghamton has the highest graduation rate, the highest retention rate, and is consistently the highest ranked in terms of education and value of the four university centers. In response, Senator Akshar and I sent a letter to the Governor explaining our concerns. You can read our joint letter here.
Breathing New Life into the Oakdale MallWhen the Oakdale Mall began to empty out, I joined a group of elected officials to discuss the future of the property. We pledged to not let the mall become an abandoned eyesore. After several years and many twists and turns, Spark JC, co-owned by Doug Matthews and Marc Newman, announced that they had finalized the purchase of the Oakdale Mall, with plans to transform it into “Oakdale Commons.” They will convert the mall into a multi-purpose space with shopping, restaurants, and other tenants. The former Sears building is already teeming with activity (Beer Tree, Lourdes Hospital’s new Health & Fitness facility and Broome County offices). This is welcome news for Johnson City and the entire region. To read more about the project: https://www.pressconnects.com/story/news/local/2022/01/27/oakdale-mall-commons-johnson-city-taxes-timeline-tenants/9224670002/


Free COVID Test Ordering Information

Earlier this month, the Governor provided my office with COVID-19 At Home Rapid Tests and KN-95 Masks with the goal of directing them to high need parts of our community. My office delivered them to the YWCA, United Way, Broome-Tioga BOCES, and Union Volunteer Emergency Services, among a dozen community organizations. I also delivered some to vendors at the Regional Farmers Market. You can also now order At-Home COVID-19 tests at no cost to you. Visit www.covidtests.gov to order up to four at-home COVID-19 tests per household!


Redistricting Update

After the NYS Independent Redistricting Commission failed to submit a 2nd round of maps, the responsibility of drawing new district lines fell to the State Legislature. Earlier this week, the proposed Congressional, State Senate and Assembly lines were released.

The 123rd Assembly district remains unchanged. It will continue to include the City of Binghamton, The Towns of Union and Vestal. Unlike other areas in Upstate, there was a population increase in the 123rd as reported by the 2020 census. Vestal saw a 4.5% increase in population, while the City of Binghamton gained 1.3%, the Village of Endicott gained 2.1%, and the Village of Johnson City gained 1.1%.

To view the new legislative lines statewide, you can visit the NYS Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment website here: https://latfor.state.ny.us/maps/