North Country Assemblywoman Addie A. E. Jenne, D-Theresa, says she is ready to get to work to continue to fight for economic growth for the North Country, fair education funding policies for local schools and continued access to health care for state residents.
“I look forward to continuing to work on issues that matter to North Country families so that we can make our region and our state stronger and full of more opportunity,” Assemblywoman Jenne, formerly known as Assemblywoman Russell, said following the opening day of the 240th session of the New York State Legislature.
Jenne said she agreed with Assemblywoman Speaker Carl Heastie’s focus on working on policies to drive job creation, invest in infrastructure, and address income inequality that he shared with lawmakers during his opening remarks to the state Assembly.
She also noted her continued commitment to getting tax relief for working families, creating more good-paying local jobs and providing funding necessary for improvements to aging roads and bridges in a move that also benefits economic development efforts.
Jenne said she believes the challenges facing the state means now is not the time to let the so-called millionaire’s tax expire.
"It is now more important than ever to ensure that everyone pays their fair share. We need to close the gap between the top 1 percent of income earners and everyone else. It’s time we have a fair, progressive tax code that provides relief for those who need it the most, like hard-working North Country families," she said.
Jenne said she agreed with Speaker Heastie's call for this to be the year the state sets a timetable for fully funding foundation aid for the state's most economically challenged public schools.
"The state has a legal obligation to provide equity in its school funding policies. This will benefit North Country schools that serve communities with a high percentage of families facing personal economic challenges," she said.
"Our students' access to quality education can not and should not be tied to a community's wealth. Our fore fathers developed a system of public education designed to provide all students, regardless of their economic status, with equal access to a quality education," Jenne said.
She also noted Speaker Heastie pointed out the governor's call for free tuition for SUNY and CUNY students is in line with legislation that has been championed in the state Assembly for years.
"I have long fought to make sure we continue to make sure college remains affordable for families in our state. Free tuition at state colleges is not a novel approach," Jenne said.
"It is a recognition that we are hurting our state's economic growth by sending so many of our college students into the work world with heavy student debt that limits their spending options as adults," she added.
"It's also an acknowledgement the gap in incomes between those with and those without college degrees has continued to grow wider as we have lost manufacturing jobs in the North Country and around the state and nation," according to the assembly member.
She said two other points the speaker made in his remarks are also issues that she is deeply committed to seeing achieved during the current legislative session.
"It is critical we act quickly to address full state funding of indigent legal services. This unfunded mandate has placed a heavy burden on our counties. The measure was passed unanimously in the state senate and state assembly. We know this legislation was close to becoming law in recent days, and we need to work to make that happen in the near future," Jenne said.
She said in light of potential changes on the horizon at the federal level it will be important for state lawmakers to pass legislation to ensure state residents have access to affordable health care and safeguard women’s reproductive rights.
“We need to ensure that everyone has the health care they need when they need it, and that they are empowered to make decisions based on what’s right for them and their families, not what a politician dictates,” Jenne said.