FINCH ANNOUNCES LIBRARY GRANT AWARDS FOR 126th ASSEMBLY DISTRICT

GDF READING TO CHILDREN 042

Assemblyman Gary D. Finch (R,C,I-Springport) is pleased to announce the recipients of four public library construction grants allocated to the 126th District. The funds came from a $14 million capital fund for library construction and improvement that Finch helped negotiate into the 2012-2013 Enacted State Budget.

A voracious reader, Finch is thrilled that the libraries will be receiving some essential support.

“From the cuneiform archives of ancient Sumer to the magnificent New York State Public Library System, society’s libraries have proven to be a consistent treasure of communal expression and enlightenment.  I am so pleased to deliver this funding to Central New York’s passionate readers and writers,” said Finch.

The awards were allocated as follows:

-Aurora Free Library: $26,307

This grant will facilitate access to the library through replacement of the exterior walkways and installation of an interior stair chair for those with disabilities.

-Seymour Public Library: $36,642

The Seymour Library District plans to renovate the western portion of its existing library roof for building conservation.

-Smyrna Public Library: $18,746

The Smyrna Public Library plans to modify its doors, staircase, flooring and shelving to create space for computer users and plumbing weatherization.

-Maxwell Memorial Library: $6,300

This grant will be used to improve the handicapped-accessible entry by adding an automatic door opener and wireless push panels to the existing door. The library also plans to replace damaged slabs on its wheelchair ramp.

WOOD FROG WOULD FIND NICHE AS OFFICIAL STATE AMPHIBIAN

Assemblyman Gary D. Finch (R,C,I-Springport) partners with Lili Winkleman and her fourth-grade classmates at State Street Intermediate to promote the incomparable wood frog.

Assemblyman Gary D. Finch (R,C,I-Springport) is seeking support from his Assembly colleagues to pass legislation that would designate the wood frog as New York State’s official amphibian. The bill has already passed in the Senate.

Finch noted the critical role that State Street Intermediate School fourth graders have assumed by raising awareness about the unique amphibian, especially nine-year-old Lili Winkleman, a frog enthusiast who has spearheaded their advocacy and savvy media campaign. Finch was also quick to praise their teacher, Irene Manna, for her commitment to this innovative, interdisciplinary project.

“Those who dismiss this legislation as trivial are missing the point here. The presence of this bill in our legislature is a testament to the singularity of our democracy. Its journey from the imagination of a nine-year-old girl to the halls of one of the world’s most powerful legislatures is remarkable,” said Finch.

“Passing this legislation would also be a sign of support for the innovative, industrious teachers that education reformers on both sides of the aisle want for our children.

“Ms. Manna’s plan to help her students make the wood frog New York State’s official amphibian has displayed a comprehensive versatility. Students learned about governmental procedures. They shored up their writing by composing persuasive letters to state representatives. And, of course, the children received a lively biology lesson when they learned all about the wood frog and its intriguing array of characteristics,” said Finch.

The wood frog has the unique ability to freeze itself and completely reanimate. It is a defense mechanism against New York’s harsh winters. The wood frog can also sustain remarkably high levels of glucose.

These unique characteristics have piqued the interest of researchers. Biologists are excited at the prospect of applying the wood frog’s freezing technique to donated organs before transplant. Additionally, diabetes researchers are intrigued by their incredibly high blood sugar levels.

 

FINCH REACTS TO THE 2014-15 NEW YORK STATE BUDGET Statement from Assemblyman Gary D. Finch (R,C,I-Springport)

While compromise is axiomatic to negotiation, I am pleased with some of the most crucial appropriations in the New York State budget.  I voted in favor of nine of the component bills yesterday on the Assembly Floor.  I voted against the Public Safety bill because it would effectuate double bunking.  This would create a major public safety issue for corrections officers, civilian employees and inmates.

One of the budget’s most critical sections restores $602 million of the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) for school districts in desperate need of those funds.  Ideally, both houses of the legislature and the governor would prioritize the full restoration of the GEA over new, expensive programs such as universal pre-K.  This funding, however, is an excellent start.  It represents a tangible fiscal improvement for our Central New York school districts.  I am also pleased with the increase in Foundation Aid for New York State’s school districts.

Additionally, I am glad that our advocacy for our friends in the agricultural sector bore fruit. Two provisions should be particularly helpful for young farmers.  One is the Beginning Farmers NY fund, which allows new farmers to secure grants up to $50,000 to catalyze their burgeoning businesses.  The other is a student loan forgiveness program for SUNY Alumni who are full-time operators of farms.  Farmers young and old should benefit from the $27 million allocated for Agricultural Local Assistance programs, a sizable $6.1 million increase from last year.

This budget is not without its shortcomings, however.  Unfunded mandates are the primary cost drivers for our municipalities, and this budget does little to mitigate their stinging burden.  That the governor and the Assembly Majority expect towns, villages and school districts to continue to implement these egregious, unfunded mandates while providing existing services without raising new revenues in the midst of a property tax freeze makes no sense: mathematical, common or otherwise.

                                                            ###

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this release stated that Assemblyman Finch voted in the affirmative on all of the budget bills. In fact, he voted in favor of nine of the ten. Assemblyman Finch voted against the Public Protection and General Government bill.

 

FINCH EMBRACES NEW ROLE ON HIGHER EDUCATION CONFERENCE COMMITTEE

RELEASED ON: March 19, 2014

Higher Ed

Pictured from Left to Right: Casey E. Crabill, Ph.D., President, Onondaga Community College (OCC), Jason Densmore, President of the OCC Veterans Club, Keith Stevenson, Coordinator, OCC Veterans’ Affairs Office, Susan Tormey, Assistant to the Vice President, Human Resources & Esternal Relations, OCC.

Assemblyman Gary D. Finch (R,C,I-Springport) has been diligently advocating for the interests of New York State’s colleges and universities throughout this legislative session, his first as a member of the Higher Education Conference Committee.

“It is critical to ensure that New York State’s college students have the tools they need to excel in our ever-evolving economic landscape,” said Finch. “Whether our committee is seeking capital to bolster SUNY’s infrastructure or working to fund innovative academic programs, our first priority is to allocate the resources available to us in a sustainable way that benefits our state’s scholars.”

FINCH CRITICAL OF CUOMO’S PLAN FOR FREE COLLEGE EDUCATION FOR CONVICTS

RELEASED ON: February 20, 2014

Assemblyman Gary Finch (R,C,I-Springport) is disappointed by Gov. Cuomo’s proposal to provide a free college education for incarcerated inmates in state penitentiaries.

The proposal would impose a hefty tax burden on New Yorkers: $5,000 per convict, per year. The costly measure would establish higher education programs in each region of the state. Unlike law-abiding college graduates who shoulder an average student debt burden of $25,537, convicted felons would not be required to pay back any of their educational costs upon their re-entry into society.

“With this proposal, the governor appears to display a lack of consideration for our hardworking, middle-class families. It misappropriates taxpayer funds. It takes the average New York state student 10-20 years to pay back their student loans, which is longer than the mandatory sentence for first degree burglary,” said Finch.

“It is difficult to conceive that the governor would rather provide a free college education to convicted drug traffickers, violent criminals and thieves than eagle scouts, merit scholars and community servants,” concluded Finch.

FINCH MEETS WITH FUTURE FARMERS OF AMERICA

RELEASED ON: February 19, 2014

Homer FFA Students
Pictured from Left to Right:Homer FFA Advisor Kathy Pratt, McKenzie Brown, Assemblyman Gary Finch, Nicole Ponticello, Danielle Angel and Stephanie Mueller and Josh Cochran from Moravia FFA.

Assemblyman Gary Finch (R,C,I-Springport) was pleased to host a contingency of the Future Farmers of America (FFA) last week in his Albany office. Members of the Homer and Moravia groups spoke with the Assemblyman regarding their innovative curriculum.

“I was proud to host the delegation from the FFA this week. Their mission is incredibly important; over 20% of all Americans will work in the agriculture industry or related fields at some point during their career. Their balanced curriculum is an excellent template for all technical education.”

The FFA is on the vanguard of agricultural training. They bolster their industry training with technical reading and writing assignments, as well as agriscience courses that reinforce core science concepts.

FINCH HONORS YOUTH ACTIVIST

RELEASED ON: February 12, 2014

Reality Check

Today, Assemblyman Gary Finch (R,C,I-Springport) and the New York State Legislature proudly recognized Matthew Jones, Reality Check’s Youth Advocate of the Year for the Central New York Region.

Reality Check of New York is a statewide, teen-led movement against the tobacco industry and its deceptive marketing practices. Jones was instrumental in apprising Cayuga County legislators of the negative impact that tobacco advertising imparts on teenagers. Jones called on the legislators to draft a bill to restrict retailers from selling cigarettes in close proximity to schools. It passed.

“On behalf of my colleagues in the New York State Assembly, I want to congratulate Matthew for his deserved award and thank him for his important service to our community. Central New York is a safer, healthier place because of Matthew’s advocacy. His story is a sterling example of how concerned citizens can effectuate concrete change in our state government,” said Finch.

Jones, a volunteer firefighter, also performs in Auburn High School’s marching and jazz bands. He speaks fluent Italian. He participates in New Visions, a scholastic program for students interested in pursuing careers in health care. He plans to attend pharmacy school.

FINCH: INACTION UNACCEPTABLE Assembly Democrats block bills to lower property taxes

RELEASED ON: February 11, 2014

Assembly Democrats wasted an excellent opportunity to mitigate the crushing onus of unfunded mandates today by allowing two bills to die in committee, noted Assemblyman Gary Finch (R,C,I-Springport).

These measures, A.6546 (The Taxpayer Protection Act) and A.6343 (bill providing a three year unfunded mandate moratorium) would have provided New York families with relief from escalating property taxes and codified common-sense spending limits that would prevent the state from recklessly passing budget overruns onto local municipalities.

“There are nine unfunded state mandates that account for 90 percent of local budgets,” said Finch. “Over the past twelve years, the Assembly Majority has voted 140 times to impose $94 billion in unfunded mandates on municipalities. This is why New York State’s hard-working families continue to face the most burdensome property tax rates in the nation.”

Assembly Bill A.6546 would have capped state spending growth at a sensible rate concurrent with inflation, as certified by the comptroller. Both A.6546 and A.6343 called for moratoriums on unfunded mandates.

“Unfunded mandates are crippling our local school districts and municipalities. They limit the breadth and quality of services that local governments can provide their citizens. These unfunded mandates are the direct cause of New York State’s outrageous property taxes,” said Finch.

FINCH CO-SPONSORING WOMEN’S EQUALITY LEGISLATION

RELEASED ON: January 27, 2014

Assemblyman Finch is proud to co-sponsor, along with his colleagues in the Assembly Minority Conference, nine individual pieces of legislation promoting and advancing critical components of the New York State Women’s Equality Agenda. A Women’s Equality Act was proposed in 2013, but failed to become law due to opposing legislative processes used in each house of the legislature.

In 2013, Gov. Cuomo introduced a Women’s Equality Act, calling for separate provisions to be brought to the Floors of each Chamber. The Senate passed nine separate women’s equality bills. The Assembly Majority, however, introduced a single bill, thereby eliminating any chance for measures to be enacted in 2013. This was a squandered opportunity to provide the women of New York with the landmark legislation they deserve.

“It is incumbent upon us to pass this legislation in 2014 without the political grandstanding that took place in 2013,” said Assemblyman Finch.

The nine bills Assemblyman Finch co-sponsored today passed the Senate unanimously last year. They are as follows:

• Pay Equity – S.5872 – Enacts pay equity provisions designed to strengthen equal pay protections for women in the workplace. Sponsor: Assemblyman John Ceretto (R,C,I-Lewiston)
• Sexual Harassment – S.5873 – Applies sexual harassment protections in the law to all organizations of any size. Sponsor: Assemblywoman Jane Corwin (R,C,I-Clarence)
• Attorney’s Fees In Discrimination Cases – S.5874 – Awards attorney’s fees to the prevailing party in housing, credit and employment discrimination where the discrimination was done on the basis of sex. Sponsor: Assemblyman Joe Borelli (R,C,I-South Shore)
• Familial Status Discrimination – S.5875 – Adds familial status to the list of classes protected and covered by the Human Rights Law. Sponsor: Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin (R,C,I-Melrose)
• Prohibiting Housing Discrimination – S.5876 – Prohibits housing discrimination based upon a person’s status as a domestic violence victim and establishes a task force to study the impact of source of income upon access to housing. Sponsor: Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R,C,I-Brooklyn, Staten Island)
• Restraining Orders – S.5877 – Specifies that the protected party in whose favor an order of protection or temporary order of protection is issued may not be held to violate that order. Sponsor: Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci (R,C,WF,I-Huntington Station)
• Electronic Hearings for Temporary Restraining Orders – S.5878 – Authorizes the establishment of a pilot program for the filing of petitions for temporary orders of protection by electronic means. Sponsor: Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R,C,I-Canandaigua)
• Human Trafficking – S.5879 – Enacts the human Trafficking Victims Protection & Justice Act, creating new crimes, strengthening penalties and protecting victims. Sponsor: Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney (R,C,I-New Hartford)
• Pregnancy-Related Employment Accommodations – S.5880 – Classifies pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions as temporary disabilities as defined within the Human Rights Law. Sponsor: Assemblyman Ray Walter (R,C,I-Amherst)

These bills must be passed by both houses in 2014 in order to become law. They have been submitted to the Assembly Index Clerk and will be sent to the appropriate committees for consideration before moving to the Floor for a vote.

FINCH ALERT: FEBRUARY 3 DEADLINE FOR VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTER TUITION HELP APPROACHING QUICKLY

RELEASE: January 22, 2014

Assemblyman Gary Finch (R,C,I-Springport) is advising members of volunteer fire departments and service-minded scholars about an opportunity to receive tuition reimbursement through the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY). FASNY has developed the Higher Education Learning Plan (FASNY HELP) as an incentive for people to join New York’s volunteer fire service. This program will provide tuition reimbursement to student-volunteers. The deadline to apply for the spring semester is February 3.