With the 2012 elections right around the corner, and every member of the entire New York State Legislature seeking to return to Albany for another term moving their campaigns into high gear, I’ve been getting emails, mailings, etc. from those who “represent” my district claiming enormous victories in the last two years. In their opinion, these victories warrant sending them back to Albany for another term. My response???………………………NOT SO FAST.
While clearly Albany is LESS DYSFUNCTIONAL than it was a few years ago, I would maintain that being less dysfunctional is hardly a victory that we the voters of New York State should base our vote in the upcoming elections on. Remember – statistically speaking, significantly more than ½ of the current state legislators seeking re-election have been in the state legislature for 5 or more years, and as such, they played a role in earning the New York State Legislature the distinction bestowed upon it by the Brennan Center for Justice nearly a decade ago of being the MOST DYSFUNCTIONAL legislature in the entire nation.
I would argue that while they have improved slightly, there is still a LONG way to go. While we have seen an on time budget the last two years, and some SLIGHT reforms in areas that have driven up costs here in NY to unprecedented levels, there is still much work to be done, and as voters with an opportunity before us to configure a state legislature that really does care about effecting change for the good of its citizens and not just for the good of its campaign donors, we should ensure that every candidate, whether an incumbent, a challenger, or a candidate running for an open seat, answers ONE question correctly before we decide to cast our vote in their favor.
Will the candidate support legislation to provide local governments (counties, towns, cities, school boards) with MEANINGFUL mandate relief so that we can see not just a cap on the growth of our property taxes, but an actual DECREASE in our property taxes in the next decade? And how does one define MEANINGFUL reform? Implementation of the recommendations contained in the Let NY Work – A Common Agenda for the Common Good would rise to the level of MEANINGFUL – anything less really doesn’t and as property tax payers in New York State, we should not allow anyone to represent US who does not support this level of reform.
We need MAJOR fixes to achieve the kind of property tax relief that is necessary to keep people and businesses from leaving the state in droves. We need to elect courageous leaders who can rise above the political posturing that runs so rampant in Albany and can publicly and boldly support MEANINGFUL reform measures. We deserve nothing less. And we should settle for NOTHING less in November.