Putting Our House In Order
I want to take a moment to clear some things up. There’s been speculation in the New York and Washington media the last few weeks that I would be running for Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy’s congressional seat here on Long Island, as she is retiring after nearly two decades of service. While I am honored by the outpouring of support encouraging me to do so, I will be continuing my work with the New York State Senate.
I admit that I am tempted to try to bring some common sense to the three-ring circus that’s set up tent in Washington. You may recall that I ran against the incumbent Ms. McCarthy for that very seat six years ago and since that time, Congress’ inability to get anything done seems to have only gotten worse. But it wasn’t that long ago that Albany suffered the same malady. Thankfully we’re turning that around but the bi-partisan progress we’ve made in our state capitol is in no way safe.
The reality is that Albany is the real arbiter of our day-to-day lives here on Long Island. Everything from the mass transit, to the taxes we pay, to how our children are educated, is ultimately decided there. Not that long ago, the system was broken, as a lopsided government raised our taxes more than $14 billion. Long Island commuters were hit with an unfair commuter tax, while city residents got a pass. Property taxes spiraled upwards as our school aid was routinely diverted to other parts of the state. Even our STAR property tax rebates vanished while scandals became the weekly sideshow. Here on the island, businesses fled and our neighbors followed. There was no balance in our capitol. Long Island was openly ignored, so we always got the short end of the stick.
I wanted that to stop, so I ran for state senate. I went to Albany to try and rid us of that tone-deaf dysfunction so we could right the ship. Together with some like-minded people we struck down the MTA payroll tax, restored the STAR rebates for homeowners, and recaptured Long Island’s fair share of school aid for our children. We even lowered the state income taxes of 4 million middle class New Yorkers to the lowest they’ve been in 58 years. Low and behold, a Republican senate worked hand-in hand with a Democratic governor and a Democratic assembly to actually get things done. We showed the nation that a balanced government works best.
We are finally overcoming the bemused resignation that was so common in Albany and we’re making cooperation between political parties primary to the people’s business. But that can be undone in the blink of an eye. That’s why I’m not running for Congress.
I refuse to give up what we fought so hard to accomplish.
Make no mistake, there are those who would love nothing more than to return one-sided, New York City-centric dominance to Albany so they don’t have to think, or negotiate, or explain a darn thing to anyone. But the great philosopher Voltaire wrote that “Democracy is noisy,” and believe it or not, it still works. True progress is achieved only when both sides have to work with one another. We can’t afford to return to unchecked complacency.
There’s still a lot to do in New York but I feel more hopeful and confident than ever. I still love being your senator, I like a good fight, and I love it when the dust settles and we get things done.
I want to thank all of you who wrote to me and especially those who called me personally about a Congressional run, but it’s just too important to the suburbs of New York that both parties continue to have a voice in state government. We are still getting our own house in order and I remain committed to that task.