Norris: 2018 Is New Opportunity To Reform Albany

A Column from Assemblyman Mike Norris (R,I-Lockport)

While the New Year has brought our region a plethora of cold and snow, many of us have delighted in the recent snap of the Buffalo Bills’ playoff drought and joys of spending time celebrating the season with our loved ones. As we return to school, work and our everyday obligations, it is time for our state government to return to Albany to produce a fiscally-sound state budget and address the many needs of our state.

I am so proud to represent all of you, and have had the pleasure to meet with many citizens of the 144th Assembly District. Now, I have returned to Albany more determined to make sure our Western New York priorities are heard and you are represented.

What I have heard from you is that Albany must be held more accountable and reduce the spending that is breaking up families and driving New Yorkers out of state. New Yorkers across our state demand more from Albany, and unfortunately, I heard very little of that message in the governor’s grandiose State of the State address. In fact, it sounded to me more like a national political stump speech promoting progressive and liberal ideals more than one addressing the pressing economic crisis impacting the people of our state.

These are the facts: our state budget last year was a record $163.6 billion, our state debt is approximately $64 billion (which amounts to about $3,000 per person) and our projected state deficit is $4.4 billion. If your household was in such debt and facing a staggering annual budget deficit, you would immediately take steps to significantly change and reduce unnecessary and wasteful spending. The state needs to get its fiscal house in order and re-examine its priorities from top to bottom, tighten its belt by cutting expenses and provide greater transparency regarding all its contracts and economic programs.

The state’s reckless path of high taxes and substantial spending has crippled families and they have acted with their feet to the tune of one million people leaving the state since 2010. We need a fiscally-conservative approach now, and I stand ready to speak up and fight for lower taxes and reduced spending while protecting our communities from Lake Ontario flooding and reinvesting in our infrastructure. This includes roads, bridges and water and sewer lines, which are in dire need of repair and provide the bedrock for future investment and development.

Though I am concerned that the governor’s tone was off message with the core values of those in my district, I am determined to continue working with him and all of my colleagues to build consensus on common ground issues and to help add Western New York’s values to Albany’s list of priorities.

In closing, I also would like to thank all of those who participated in our district’s annual Winter Clothing Drive in which over 1000 winter clothing items were donated to local charities to provide warmth to those in need. Please accept my best wishes for a happy and healthy 2018, and as always, I welcome your input and feedback and hope you feel free to contact me anytime at (716) 839-4690.