A Legislative Column by Assemblyman Karl Brabenec (R,TCN-Deerpark)

As we delve deeper into budget negotiations here in Albany and approach the April 1 deadline, there are many questions still to be answered. All that seems to be talked about is giving away free college on the backs of our taxpayers and allowing 16- and 17-year-old murderers and rapists to be tried in family court. Outrageous ideas you might say – welcome to New York politics and the myopic leadership that attempts to run our state. Well, I have a few ideas of my own that will benefit our citizens on a much broader and more equitable scale.

Clean water and safe infrastructure must be priorities this budget season. We are flooded (no pun intended) with stories about bursting pipes or roads riddled with potholes and the slow response from our town and village governments. We need to empower our localities with the resources necessary to combat these issues and that starts with a $2 billion investment in water infrastructure. This will go a long way toward replacing old pipes, purging lead from our schools’ water supplies, fixing our local waste water systems and protecting our aquifers and reservoirs.

Next, we must make an investment in protecting our developmentally-disabled community. I was honored to host a forum right here in the Hudson Valley as part of the Assembly Republican Task Force on Protecting the Rights of People with Developmental Disabilities. We introduced our C.A.R.E.S. Plan last month as a result. We need to protect our most vulnerable citizens by offering them the highest quality in education, personal development and employment training, and that starts with a direct investment in our communities and those on the frontlines of care.

College costs are astronomical. But, free giveaways like the governor’s plan are too exclusive and limit the number of students who receive benefits. Luckily, the Assembly Republican Affordable College for All Initiative targets not only current and prospective students, but graduate students and recent graduates as well by restoring the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) for grad students and offering tax credits for student loan payments above what is currently on the books.

I promise to keep my nose to the grindstone and push for better public policy and spending here in New York State. Remember, this is your money and you deserve to know how it’s spent and have a right to hold elected officials’ feet to the fire when they abuse your trust.

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