Our community deserves a seat at the table

By Thomas Libous

Iíve always tried to work hard for our community; protecting and building our assets. Iíve helped bring thousands of jobs to the area by securing $100 million in capital funding for Binghamton University, securing millions of dollars for our local hospitals, helping convince the Ottawa Senators to locate its American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton, bringing the PGA Champions Tourís Dickís Sporting Goods Open golf tournament to Endicott, and keeping the AA-level Binghamton Mets Baseball Club in the Southern Tier.

And what Iím doing in Albany right now is no different. Protecting us from further damage done by the Senate democrats is my number one priority.

Comptroller DiNapoli is predicting a $3 billion budget deficit this year. Weíre going to have to negotiate a solution to deal with that deficit. You need a voice in those negotiations. The Budget canít be decided by three New York City bosses behind closed doors again.

Thatís why this change is so important now.

Ever since the State Budget passed in April, hardworking taxpayers like you have been angry and with good reason. The New York City bosses decided that your opinion and the opinion of the people that represent you and the rest of Upstate New York didnít matter. Thatís why they negotiated a Budget in secret. They stuck you with your share of billions of dollars in new taxes and fees. Most of us canít understand ďbillions of dollars.Ē But let me share with you how these taxes hurt you and your family. They increased your utility taxes and taxes on your health care, they increased your car registration fee and your SUNY tuition and they took away your STAR Rebate Check.

When weíre facing difficult economic times your government should be tightening its belt, not going on a spending spree expecting you to foot the bill. Itís insulting. Thatís why I voted no on their Budget proposal. And thatís why I proposed a plan that wouldíve cut wasteful spending and totally avoided tax increases. But it was ignored.

The Senate democrats from New York City donít get it. They arenít interested in giving Upstate the same opportunity for jobs and success. They proved that by changing Empire Zones so that they took away benefits from our local businesses like the Best Buy Distribution Center, L-3 Communications and Sun Printing.

And they didnít think the safety of the roads and bridges you and your families travel on every day was as important as the safety of the subways, trains and bridges they travel on down in NYC.† They proved that by funneling your tax dollars downstate for their needs instead of ours.

Theyíre trying to pass legislation that requires you to keep your car clear of more than an inch of snow in the winter and other legislation that essentially makes public restrooms unisex. They donít understand us and they donít know whatís good for us.

The damage theyíve done Upstate in only five months is staggering and I couldnít stand by and let it continue.

This doesnít mean Iím not frustrated with the stalemate thatís happening right now. But if in the end it protects you from even bigger tax increases and laws that donít make sense for Upstate, then itís worth sticking it out.

Over the years, Iíve worked together with local democrats like County Executive Fiala and Assemblywoman Lupardo on many projects including the Greater Binghamton Airport improvements and passing legislation that keeps us better informed about our environmental health risks. Working in a bi-partisan way with my colleagues is important to me and itís the best way to get results. Thatís why Iíve proposed a solution to this stalemate and shared my ideas with my New York City colleagues.

My solution includes reforms that are going to make the Senate operate in a way that doesnít favor Upstate or Downstate. When these reforms are adopted, Broome, Tioga and Chenango counties will have the same opportunities in the Senate as Brooklyn, Queens and Westchester.

I know youíre angry and frustrated with the situation in Albany. But itís the only way for our community to have a seat at the table.

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