Utica, N.Y. - What is the state of the state in New York?
As Governor Cuomo is preparing to give his annual State of the State address, we checked in on Sunday with two local state leaders about what to expect in the upcoming legislative session that begins on Wednesday to help New Yorkers.
We checked in with Sen. Joe Griffo of Rome and Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon of Marcy.
Sen. Griffo says recent preliminary results from the 2020 U.S. Census shows that the state of the state in New York is not good.
Although the final results of the Census have not been released, Griffo says preliminary numbers show New York lost 126,000 residents between July 2019 and July 2020, the highest population loss in the country for the period, and he says that needs to be addressed ASAP, "I’m very concerned. To continue to see this exodus from New York is troubling and it’s going to cause more problems for us relative to representation in the federal government and the allocation of federal resources."
Griffo says because of the population loss, the state is in danger of losing up to two congressional seats.
Buttenschon agreed that the Census data is alarming and a focus should be made on reversing that trend, "Very concerning because we know that the Census is to provide accuracy and consistency of what is happening within the population in a community and what we need to do."
Griffo says ultimately big changes are needed in New York State in order to reverse the exodus trend, "The problem is the policies in the state, that we are over burdening people with taxes and regulations and mandates, and until we get a grasp of that and it’s going to be much more challenging post pandemic because of the economic consequences that everyone is feeling and so is every segment and sector of our economy so we need to really review and change the way we do things in New York so people can afford to live here and people can afford to do business here."
Griffo added, "The first thing we should do is take a look at the size and structure of our government, what services we can do away with. And secondly, look at the programs that we offer and determine how extensive they are, how extensive they are and how they can be re-examined and restructured. We talk about our Medicaid program, the most generous in the nation."
Both Griffo and Buttenschon know that the state is in a financial situation like we've never seen before, thanks to the pandemic.
Griffo says the beginning of dealing with the financial situation in the state this year will be Governor Cuomo's State of the State address coming up, "The Governor will be giving his State of the State message probably this week upcoming and we'll have to take a look at what policies, but I think predominately we’re going to see all COVID-related measures, beginning to talk about what we’re going to deal with financially and how we approach that."
A non-financial related issue that many legislators, including Griffo and Buttenschon, hope will be brought up in this legislative session is reviewing and potentially changing the bail reform laws that went into effect in 2020.
Buttenschon says it is one of her top priorities, "I have requested and recent conferences is the importance of all stakeholders coming together to the table. We want the prosecution, we want law enforcement, we want community members to come forward because the goal is the same, it’s about a safe community, it’s just how we’re gonna get there."
Griffo has echoed those statements repeatedly over the past year.
All in all, this may be the most interesting session of the legislature that legislators can ever remember. Again, it begins on Wednesday.