Standing on the Million Dollar staircase Monday, Republican senators in the minority conference announced their agenda for the 2023 legislative session to focus on public safety, cutting inflation and making New York more affordable to slow its population decline.
The group of senators, led by Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt, tied state's continuous outmigration, which could lead to more losses in New York's representation in Congress, to ongoing economic decline — especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"If [Democrats in power] are not doing anything to change the outflow of and stem the flow of outmigration from this state, then they are part of the problem," Ortt said. "... Members in this conference want to be part of the solution."
The Senate GOP will push its Rescue New York legislative agenda in efforts to support small business and bolster local governments and economies.
The Republicans' legislative priorities for public safety include proposals to repeal the state's cashless bail laws, discovery reform, and the Less is More and HALT acts; give judges the discretion to determine dangerousness, new grant programs for law enforcement and increasing penalties for drug crimes and illegal firearms.
They propose imposing a 2% cap on state spending, increasing the state's investment in its reserve fund, to extend the state's partial gas tax holiday, enacting a $300 million tax cut for taxpayers and reducing property taxes and expanded rebates for property owners to reduce costs for families.
High costs and an uncertain economic future paired with an uptick in crime since 2020 has created the perfect storm for people to leave the state in droves, senators argue.
"Never before has New York state needed a ‘rescue’ more than it does right now," said Sen. George Borrello, a Republican from Sunset Bay. "The exodus out of our state has become a stampede and every New Yorker that leaves us takes a part of our future with them. Reversing this trend isn’t complicated. We need to lower our exorbitant cost of living, restore sanity to our criminal justice policies and move our business climate from hostile to helpful. Our plan is the path to achieving these goals. It needs to be enacted before it's too late."
Other priorities outlined in the Republicans' updated agenda include requiring the State Education Department track unspent federal pandemic aid for schools; expanding mental health treatment; increasing funding for prevention for heroin and opioid use and several others.