Ortt, Hawley say legislative session left many issues unresolved for upstate

Staff Reports Posted 26 June 2015 at 12:00 am

State Sen. Rob Ortt (R-North Tonawanda) and State Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R-Batavia) both issued statements after the conclusion of the legislative session in Albany.

Both have districts that include Orleans County.

Ortt says work needed to fight ‘destructive policies of downstate politicians and special interests’:

“I believe the 2015 legislative session, now officially concluded, was a mix both personally and for the Western New Yorkers that I represent,” Ortt said. “There have been significant victories for our region on tax relief, education, and job creation. Our unwavering commitment to protecting the property tax cap – and keeping state spending under a similar cap – will result in larger property tax relief checks and record funding for STAR and Enhanced STAR.

“We also secured a key victory for Western New York children, parents, and teachers through record investments in our schools as well as common sense policies to ensure transparency and fairness in student testing and teacher evaluations. We’ve also prioritized local job creation by taking important steps to strengthen agriculture, redevelop brownfields, reduce energy rates, fund infrastructure, and expand green technology.

“In other areas, we increased critical services to veterans returning from combat, children without adequate health care, women subjected to rape and domestic violence, victims of mental illness, and individuals and families affected by disabilities. Stricter measures against drug dealers and sex offenders will keep our families and communities safe.

“But I’m also extremely disappointed in the actions – or inaction – taken by the New York City-dominated Assembly and a downstate liberal Governor on key issues. The Governor and Assembly walked away from most of our common sense reforms to the unconstitutional SAFE Act.

“The Governor threatened to shut down government unless legislators accepted his divisive education proposals. He has also vowed to proceed unilaterally on controversial issues like mandating a minimum wage that’s unacceptable to our small businesses and non-profits and appointing a special prosecutor to investigate our police officers.

“Despite the progress, I’m not ready to declare victory because we still have a lot of work ahead of us to revitalize Western New York and fight back against the destructive policies of downstate politicians and special interests.”

Hawley says upstate ignored as ‘Corruption Session’ comes to a close

“This year’s session has been extremely dysfunctional and marred by gridlock and controversy,” Hawley said. “We saw the downfall of two of Albany ‘s most powerful elected officials, yet there has been little to no meaningful ethics reform passed despite consistent pressure from the Assembly Minority Conference. Gridlock epitomized the waning days of session and the divide between upstate and downstate became much more apparent.

“As upstate businesses continue to struggle and middle-class New York is eroding, legislative leaders selfishly negotiated rent control as their end-of-session priority, an issue virtually meaningless to upstate New York.

“The extended negotiations between the ‘three men in a room’ cost taxpayers almost $40,000 per day for the per diem and travel expenses for the 213 legislators that were required to remain in Albany. We have been in session for a total of 14 hours this week, so that amounts to an extra $160,000, or $11,429 per hour in session, paid for by taxpayers. These extended negotiations are an affront to hardworking citizens of our state. “