( RELEASE) Hello, I’m Senator Tim Kennedy and I am very proud to be the new State Senator for Western New York’s 58th District. You entrusted me with your vote, and you have my word that I will work tirelessly, day and night, to restore your confidence in our government and to spark growth in our economy.
I thank the Democratic Conference for trusting in me to respond to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s inaugural State of the State.
The Governor is off to a great start, focusing on the issues that matter to all of our families. Governor Cuomo, the Democratic Conference looks forward to working with you to fix our broken government and repair our stumbling economy.
For far too long, hardworking men and women across New York State have felt ignored by Albany. In Western New York, my neighbors and constituents feel like they’ve lost their voice in the state capitol.
To those men and women, I say this: Whether you’re from Cheektowaga, South Buffalo or all the way to the South Bronx, I will fight to make sure your voice is heard, your tax dollars are protected and your government regains its sense of duty and responsibility.
This State of the State response serves as a launching point for the Senate Democrats’ renewed focus on a statewide agenda. We understand that the only way to restore greatness to the Empire State is to push for progress across the state – from the shores of Lake Erie to Long Island’s East End.
With unemployment high and their taxes higher, New Yorkers have grown intolerant of the lack of leadership and the poor governance that Albany has forced them to endure.
And this November, voters sent a clear message to Albany – change your ways.
For decades, politicians overspent, overtaxed, and bargained away our future.
In Western New York, we’ve seen businesses leave, farms close, and entire communities begin to crumble from neglect. Recent Census figures and the loss of two Congressional seats are proof that we must do more to stimulate our economy, especially Upstate, especially Western New York.
One way to create more jobs is to empower the growth of the SUNY system, helping our state’s proud higher education system to promote greater research partnerships with the private sector. To that end, I will continue the fight for the University at Buffalo’s UB 2020 plan.
In the past, instead of solving these economic problems, Albany has blamed others for its failure, bankrupting our government, fiscally and ethically, in the process.
But in one of the most significant changes in history, today I sit here as one of 13 brand new members of this chamber – the most in modern history.
And we have brought a lot of new ideas and a surge of new energy with us.
While we can’t change what any senator has done in the past, we can change what the State Senate does in the future.
The Senate Democrats and I are impatient for change, and we will act with urgency in our fight to make change happen.
Of the new members, 6 are Democrats, 7 Republican.
We’re all enthusiastic, and all committed to joining Governor Andrew Cuomo in his efforts to hold public officials accountable, make government affordable for taxpayers, enact a local property tax cap, and rebuild our economy to help working families through fiscal discipline and job creation.
Just as the new members are divided equally by party, so too is this great Chamber – 30 Democrats, 32 Republicans.
Despite the failings of the past, now it’s time to stop putting politics ahead of progress. As Governor Cuomo made clear today – we have a moral obligation to work together.
I’m working to bring my colleagues together to join me in building a Senate that works together – Democrats and Republicans, upstate and downstate. Because that’s the only way we’ll ever reform Albany and move New York State in a new direction.
$10 billion dollars….that’s how big and deep the deficit this coming fiscal year will be….larger than the entire budget of many states.
There will be significant cuts, but they must be thoughtful, deliberate, and not place an unfair burden on the backs of seniors, our children, veterans or our most vulnerable citizens.
And the cuts need start inside the state capitol. Before we force hardworking families to make further sacrifices, we need to lead by example. Legislators must look inward and find places where they can trim their budgets.
In November, candidates were promising real ethics reform, independent redistricting and responsible budgeting. We can’t let those promises go forgotten in January just two months later. That’s why I am so pleased the Governor’s is continuing his fight to bring fundamental change to how state government does business.
Like him, legislators must keep their promise to voters – we, Democrats and Republicans, ran under a banner of reform, vowing to bring integrity and honor back to New York State Government.
53 of the Senate’s 62 members signed the pledge to reform Albany and pass an independent redistricting plan.
It’s time to deliver on our promises. We have already called on our Republican colleagues to join us by immediately acting on these reforms as a first order of business in the new session.
Why? Because we recognize that a more accountable government means better legislators and better legislation.
It means smarter, more disciplined budgets……more effective job creation programs.
Governor Cuomo and the Democratic Conference share many of the same priorities – reducing the size of government and consolidating agencies are cost-effective ways to help taxpayers get more by paying less.
For long-term fiscal solvency, we must rebuild and, in some instances, reinvent the local economy of many communities, help small businesses grow and give employers the confidence to come back to New York to strengthen the middle class in our state.
In Western New York, the enactment of SUNY Empowerment and UB 2020 will help spark the resurgence of our economy. The State Legislature needs to come together to approve this plan.
But to achieve this, we must also reinvent government. It won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight. But we’re going to fight to make it happen, one initiative at a time.
The Governor has difficult challenges ahead – as all taxpayers do – but he also has partners, from both sides of the aisle and in both chambers, ready to get the job done. Thank you, and God Bless