Republicans in the New York state Senate on Wednesday unveiled their own priorities for the new year, hours before Gov. Kathy Hochul delivered her first State of the State address in Albany.
The agenda for the Republicans in the Senate is focused heavily on public safety, as well as boosting the state's economic picture amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The GOP conference, which lost majority power in 2018, is also facing the potential political headwinds of a redistricting process controlled by Democratic lawmakers in the state Legislature, even as the election season could be more promising for Republicans nationwide.
"This conference is on the right side of those issues that matter most to New Yorkers right now," Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt said at a news conference at the Capitol. "No matter what they try to draw, they can't run for their record of the past several years."
Lawmakers want to overhaul New York's bail laws to allow for more judicial power to determine whether a person accused of a crime should be remanded to a local jail. They want to bolster mental health services, especially for young people, and increase support for older New Yorkers in nursing homes and home care programs.
And they want to double funding for the Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Support Program, a local-level program that is backed with state money.
But the main theme for Republicans in the chamber going forward will be on addressing crime in the state, as well as taxes and jobs.
"There's an alternative to focus on criminals rather than victims," Ortt said. "There's an alternative to focusing on higher taxes and crushing regulations as opposed to lower taxes and more opportunities for working men and women."