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.

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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, Cathleen McColgin, Ph.D., Provost, 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.

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

Released on:
January 21, 2014

While the governor’s proposed tax cuts are cause for cautious optimism, serious gaps remain in the 2014 budget. Citizens of Onondaga, Cayuga, Cortland and Chenango counties deserve relief from onerous unfunded mandates that drive up costs for upstate municipalities. It is essential that we collaborate to attract and expand commerce throughout Central New York. We must encourage industry leaders to invest in our region, creating jobs that will become fulfilling careers.

It is also imperative that the budget reflects a sensible hierarchy of priorities regarding education. Gap Elimination Adjustment has dealt a damaging blow to struggling school districts that are seeing their funding restored at a glacial pace. This couldn’t come at a worse time. Our educators need the requisite resources to implement the higher standards mandated by Common Core. Before New York State finances universal Pre-K or widespread Extended Learning Time grants, it must make good on its promise to return essential funding to Central New York schools.

I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, as well as the governor, to craft a budget that promotes prosperity for Central New York families.

FINCH ENCOURAGED BY STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS

I am encouraged that the governor has prioritized middle-class tax relief and job creation for this new legislative session. Albany should work to enhance economic development, rather than stifling small businesses with burdensome taxation. As always, the prosperity of our middle-class families is at the forefront of our agenda.

Strong educational infrastructure is paramount to the revitalization of our Central New York economy. We have fallen behind. According to a recent study by Pearson, the U.S. ranks a disappointing 17th in the world among developed nations in skill development and attainment. The implementation of Common Core was not well thought out; however, the need to raise standards is crucial for a number of reasons, including economic development, job creation, and keeping pace with an ever-changing global economy.

I look forward to working hard to turn our legislative goals into tangible progress for our families and communities.