Year in Review 2023

Year in Review 2023

2023 brought with it many challenges but also many accomplishments.None of those accomplishments would have been possible without the power of the people I have the privilege to represent.I want to begin by thanking the residents of the 135th district for their trust in me and their important contributions to our office. From highlighting injustices to crafting solutions to policy concerns, your ideas, passion and tenacity has helped us achieve so much for our neighbors, and everyone across the state. 

I want to also thank my staff who genuinely care about our constituents and want to do good in the world. Chloe Dervin was elevated to Chief of Staff at the beginning of this year and has also moved from Albany to Rochester to begin working full time from the district. Her contributions to this office have been enormous and impactful. Ellie Rosenfeld was elevated to District Office Director this year, as well! Her compassion and consideration are felt by everyone who calls in for assistance. Heather Neu continues to serve as our Legislative Director, keeping track of every piece of legislation we are asked to consider, as well as all budget asks and requests for support.Heather’s organization and legal acumen are critical to my depth of understanding about the thousands of bills and issues that pass across my desk. Nayeliz Santiago, our 2022 Albany intern and 2023 part-time Albany staffer has joined our East Rochester office full-time post-graduation, serving as Legislative Aid.Nayeliz, a Penfield High School graduate, has been an outstanding addition to our team, bringing with her new perspectives and a deep dedication to public service. While we had to say goodbye to Webster-native Ahkirah Reid mid-year, as she returned to law school, we know she will continue to do amazing things and wish her success! 

This year we were able to accomplish many long-fought for goals, including fulfilling our promise to fully fund foundation aid, the formula by which we calculate school aid. This resulted in a funding increase for every school in the 135th district. This is an accomplishment 15 years in the making and I am proud of our small part in making it a reality. We continued our fight to make childcare more affordable for the middle class by extending eligibility for childcare subsidies to families making upwards of $90,000 per year. We also extended the child tax credit to include children ages 0-4 and successfully fought off a rate hike at SUNY and CUNY while investing more in adult literacy education and libraries. 

We were able to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates to our hospitals and nursing homes for the first time in over a decade, though at 7.5% we are still well short of what these institutions need to succeed; a fight that will continue into the new year. Similarly, we won some cost-of-living adjustments for direct service providers across every agency, but not as much as we had hoped for. More work to come there, as well. But with the increase we passed to minimum wage, we hope we can continue to raise wages in these critical industries to keep our most vulnerable residents cared for with dignity and respect. 

After session we hosted a compost fair with several area organizations, county government agencies and local partners. It was a tremendous success! We provided a multitude of resources to members of the community interested in composting at home, many of which can be found here. We also presented to various community groups, including seniors at the Highlands of Pittsford, about organic waste diversion options! We continue to advocate for waste reduction policies state-wide to help alleviate our mounting waste problems at High Acres and beyond. 

We were honored to host the Department of Health Commissioner, Dr. James McDonald, to discuss a variety of issues facing Monroe County stakeholders, including early intervention funding, nursing home reimbursement, food insecurity, value-based reimbursements for providers, and data collection on social determinants of health outcomes. This was a bi-partisan meeting of the Monroe County State delegation and included several community partners including Food Link, The Children’s Agenda, and the Senior Care Alliance. The Commissioner was very insightful. 

We spent much of our summer and fall fighting for an increase to the early intervention (EI) rate to help retain and attract more providers in the EI space. I also joined the newly formed special education caucus in the Assembly, a bi-partisan caucus of Assemblymembers focused on fixing our broken special education system.More on that to come next year!

I joined our brothers and sisters in labor to discuss workforce issues throughout the year, and to encourage more young people and adults to pursue careers in the trades. We also toured the Monroe County Community College Optics Lab, which is a unique program that provides micro-certificates and apprenticeships to optics technicians who are then recruited to one of the 120 optics companies in our region, as well as to major corporations world-wide, including Amazon and Google. With semiconductor manufacturing expanding at record-pace in Upstate New York, we are well placed to train and attract the workers we need to fill these high-paying positions.

While I am incredibly proud of all we have accomplished there is still so much more to do. We must continue the work we’ve done already to secure higher reimbursement rates for direct care providers in every field, from nursing homes to childcare. We have to invest more in our aging infrastructure, especially our drinking water and sewer systems.We need to address our state's housing crisis in creative ways that don't overburden our local municipalities. And we need to find more ways to put money back in the pockets of New Yorkers to fight rising costs at home.

It is the privilege of a lifetime to represent the people of the 135th district in the State Assembly. I will continue to fight for what matters to you because it matters to me too.