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End of Session Message From Senate Democratic Leader John L. Sampson

End of Session Message From Senate Democratic Leader John L. Sampson

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Published by: New York State Senate Democratic Conference on Jun 29, 2011
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For Immediate Release: June 29, 2011Austin Shafran | austinshafran@gmail.com | 917-417-3711
My fellow New Yorkers,The 2011 legislative session started the new decade off right - by putting the people first.Highlighted by the passage of an on-time and balanced budget, ethics reform, a property tax cap,strengthened tenant protections, and marriage equality, we began to restore the faith and trust instate government to give New Yorkers a reason to believe in the great things New York canaccomplish.There is no question we have much more to do to create jobs and fuel our economic recovery, but with session now over, I want to reflect on the things we have accomplished together, theunfinished business taxpayers still need us to complete, and the promises some have yet to keep.At the start of the year, many pundits said this would be the same old Albany. They saw Albanygridlock standing in the way of New York’s progress year - after – year - after - year.They were wrong, because we had a new Democratic Governor, Andrew Cuomo. Aided by adiverse coalition of experienced veterans and energetic freshmen, we worked together to changehow taxpayers view Albany.Governor Cuomo deserves credit for providing the strong leadership and tough medicine weneeded to set the table for the economic recovery our retirees, our Middle Class families, and our working poor deserve.Thanks to Governor Cuomo, we passed an on-time budget that closed a $10 billion dollar deficitwithout any new taxes or borrowing. And we started the process of consolidating agencies todeliver a state government that works better and costs less.There was pain in the budget, but we stayed true to the principle of shared sacrifice by winningkey restorations for school aid, higher education, and critical human services like Title 20 senior centers, homeless programs, summer youth employment, and juvenile justice reforms.It is due to these tough but true choices, that New York is once again open for business.Then we took on the elephant in the room – Albany’s ethics problem – an issue that has affected both parties in both houses.
Once again, led by Governor Cuomo, and with bipartisan support, we passed comprehensiveethics reform legislation that built on last year’s efforts to clean up Albany and give New Yorkersthe more open, accountable, and responsible state government they deserve.It was not perfect by any stretch, but the stronger disclosure requirements, creation of anindependent oversight commission, greater transparency for lobbyists, and tougher deterrents for  public corruption are a good start to building a state government as good as the people we serve.We also started to deal with New York’s affordability crisis. Whether you live in the suburbs or the cities, too many New Yorkers can’t afford to live here.By passing a property tax cap to ease the burden on homeowners, mandate relief to help our localgovernments, and stronger rent regulations to protect tenants, we are helping real New Yorkersstay here, work here, and start their families here.Recognizing that we needed to do more to protect tenants, we passed the first expansion of rentlaws in almost 30 years. I wish we could have done even more to strengthen rent regulations, butour journey to achieve lasting tenant protections is not over – it has just begun.And then we come to our historic passage of marriage equality.Two weeks ago, Senate Democrats stood twenty-nine strong to announce their support for marriage equality, and brought New York to the doorstep of history. On Friday, June 24th, wetook the final step by passing marriage equality into law.The passage of marriage equality is a signal to the nation and the world that New York is readyfor equality. The birthright of equality is now a reality for more people in the Empire State.Throughout its history, New York has carried the mantle of justice. The torch has now been passed to a new generation of leaders, activists, and advocates in the fight for justice and equalityfor all New Yorkers.I thank Governor Cuomo for his strong leadership and comend Council Speaker Christine Quinnfor being a true champion on this issue. New Yorkers for Marriage Equality, the Human RightsCampaign, the Gill Foundation, the Empire State Pride Agenda, and all others who have been our  partners in reaching this moment share in this achievement. And I applaud the courage of alllegislators who stood up for equality.I last, but most importantly, I want to commend Senator Tom Duane for his relentless advocacyon behalf of his community and all New Yorkers. Senator Duane changed hearts, changed minds,and in the process, helped change the course of history. None of this could have been possiblewithout him.The passage of marriage equality is a powerful example of what is possible when people work together to do what is right. With renewed optimism and restored faith, I look to the future

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