The 2013 session calendar began on Jan. 8, when the Senate convened for the first time under new leadership: the Senate majority coalition. Thanks to what was described as an unprecedented agreement between the Senate Republican conference and the Independent Democratic conference, two “conference leaders” will jointly manage Senate operations –– senators Dean Skelos, of Rockville Centre, for the Republicans, and Jeffrey Klein, of the Bronx, for the Independent Democrats.
Fuschillo said he is confident in the coalition, adding that Skelos and Klein have worked well together in the past. He explained that the Senate must work together to develop legislation that will facilitate economic growth, as New York still has a “long way to go” to return to prosperity.
“We have to provide incentives for businesses to stay, in addition to maintaining our number one priority of cutting taxes,” he said.
McDonough agreed that lowering taxes was important, particularly property taxes. The assemblyman said his constituents pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation, and he would work in the Assembly to alleviate the financial burden for Long Islanders.
Looking ahead to state budget approval process, McDonough and Fuschillo stressed the importance of ensuring that Long Island schools receive the proper amount of state aid.
“This is one of the first things we tackle when we look at the proposed budget,” McDonough said. “We have never gotten our fair share based on total enrollment.”
McDonough added that 2013 should be a busy year for the state government. Denenberg said elected officials also have their work cut out for them at the county level, as there are “numerous problems” that he believes should be examined soon.
Denenberg said high taxes countywide are inhibiting economic development, and he wants to work to change that this year by advocating for “smart-growth” programs.
“We’re losing young people, and our tax base is decreasing rather than expanding,” he said.
Hurricane Sandy also highlighted several ongoing issues in Nassau, according to Denenberg.