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Writer is critical of state senator’s explanation for supporting state budget

Posted 15 April 2015 at 12:00 am

Editor:

I read with disappointment Senator Rob Ortt’s response to comments critical of his voting for the 2015-16 state budget.

Specifically:

“I disagree with the sentiment that we should have shut down government and defunded State Police, counterterrorism, and emergency services. The effects of such a drastic action would have been incomprehensible. I simply wasn’t willing to put people’s lives at risk in order to score political points with the governor.”

Please. There may have been sentiment to shut down government, but when is the last time that ever happened in New York State? Even in recent years, if a budget was not passed by March 31, almost all New York State government funding for State Police, counterterrorism and emergency services remained intact. People’s lives were not put at risk, and there were budgets that were not passed until the summer.

Concerning political points, what are the chances of bills you co-sponsored for either outright or partial appeal of the SAFE Act being passed by the Senate, the Assembly and signed by the Governor? How much political courage does it take to sponsor such bills versus working within the budget process (such as it is), to make meaningful changes to a law that you or your constituents object to?

And it’s pretty weak gruel to mention in your response to unhappy constituents legislation that includes micro-stamping, mandatory storage and a new CoBIS database. Such legislation has little more chance of getting passed into law than your sponsored/co-sponsored legislation to repeal the SAFE Act in whole or in part.

When you voted to provide funds for an issue that you spoke out strongly against in the campaign and then portray unhappy constituents as wanting to first and foremost make political points, it makes me wonder if you really understand those constituents or the issue.

Add to that little mention by you about the truly dysfunctional “three men in a room” concluded budget process, or that you had only a few hours to read the printed bills prior to the budget vote, and one is left wondering how Albany turns roaring lions into mewing kittens. The problems in Albany transcend issues or parties – and that is the problem.

Finally, it’s telling that Assemblyman Steve Hawley voted No on the budget along with most (if not all) of the Assembly Republicans, yet all Senate Republicans present voted Yes on the budget.

Rightly or wrongly, Assemblyman Hawley asserted what are traditionally thought of as conservative principals when he explained his No vote. Perhaps you’re not as conservative as you portrayed yourself while campaigning. Time will tell.

Tom Klotzbach
Waterport