However, there is still much to be done, particularly when it comes to education. To keep the best and brightest here in New York, the governor proposed full-tuition scholarships to the top 10 percent of high school graduates who pursue science, technology, engineering or math degrees at SUNY or CUNY. This is critically important to keep these rising stars here in New York.
Cuomo also proposed that the state offer bonuses of up to $20,000 for teachers who receive top marks on teacher evaluations, stating, “I believe it’s appropriate for strategic reasons to give bonuses, for example, when we have teachers that work in some schools that are really struggling.”
Cuomo and I may not share a political party, but even Republicans can admit that many of his proposals make sense, particularly when it comes to tax relief. His hard line on taxes has reaped significant fiscal benefits over the past three years, and I urge him to continue to expand his efforts to bring jobs and revenue back to our upstate communities. Long Island is booming while our neighbors to the north are struggling.
Recent studies indicate that more people are leaving upstate New York communities than moving in, resulting in a stagnating population. During my time in the Senate, I spent a tremendous amount of time upstate. When was the last time you traveled north? It’s beautiful country, and home to many hardworking people. I urge our legislators to commit more resources to luring businesses to the region. In 2009, New Yorkers committed $1.2 billion and broke ground on a chip plant in Saratoga County. That was a good start.
I’ve devoted several columns to urging our county legislators to come together and vote to bond and use the money to fix the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant, which was damaged almost beyond repair by Superstorm Sandy. Thankfully, it appears that this will no longer need to be an option.
County Executive Ed Mangano has said that repairing Bay Park is his top priority. The federal government agreed that the project was of the upmost importance, and approved more than $730 million in grants. That’s the largest aid package awarded to date for Sandy recovery, and the people of Nassau County should be grateful.
Al D’Amato, a former U.S. senator from New York, is the founder of Park Strategies LLC, a public policy and business development firm. Comments about this column? ADAmato@liherald.com.