ALBANY (June 17, 2009)—State Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine said today that he and everyone in the farm community and Upstate New York should be concerned about the Espada-led Republican Conference’s push to pass a bill that would devastate New York’s agricultural industry.
“It’s clear that Sen. Young and her colleagues have put their desire for political power ahead of working for the people they represent,” said Sen. Aubertine, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “She has not only supported installing a Senate President who is under investigation and stands accused of attempting to put hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money in his own pocket, but one who has listed as one of his priorities a bill that would devastate the Upstate economy by driving farms out of business.”
Sen. Catharine Young, the ranking minority member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, has stood behind Sen. Pedro Espada and Minority Leader Dean Skelos at press conferences as they attempt to wrestle control of the New York State Senate.
“It’s clear the Espada-led Republicans say one thing and do another. They talk about reform, but reject real reform. They talk about Upstate, but put downstate first,” Sen. Aubertine said. “Sen. Young and her Upstate colleagues have stood behind Sen. Espada and supported his efforts to take the reins of the Senate. They have sold out the interests of farmers for their own political gain. I call on Sen. Young and any lawmaker who truly cares about the Upstate Economy to set aside personal gain and support real reform through a power sharing agreement.”
In a statement released to the media, Bronx Sen. Espada, the Republican choice to head the Senate, joined Sen. Skelos of Long Island in pointing out that the actions they took last week have stalled legislation. Among the legislation that Sen. Espada listed as a priority in his plea to move certain bills this session is the “Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act.” He did not note the importance of a Power For Jobs extender or property tax relief.
“I have been working with colleagues in my conference to help them understand how a so-called farm worker protection bill would hurt farm workers across the state and force many farms to close down,” Sen. Aubertine said. “Sen. Young should do the same. I thought we had put this bill behind us for this session, but now Senator Espada has listed it among his priorities. This should not sit well with anyone who truly supports any efforts to grow the Upstate economy.”
Sen. Aubertine, along with the New York Farm Bureau and members from both parties, has spoken out against the bill while working with his colleagues to show its potential impact on the Upstate economy. The Senator has said that while supporters have good intentions, the legislation does not take into account the nuances of agriculture and would actually do more to hurt farmers than help them.
“The fact is that Majority Leader Malcolm Smith and others in the Democratic conference have been receptive to the needs of Upstate New York, while those attempting a power grab this very moment are a pair of downstate Senators with no real concern for the needs of anyone north of Westchester, let alone here in Central and Northern New York,” Sen. Aubertine said. “I’ve worked with my colleagues to explain that this bill is attempting to fix a problem that does not exist. Now, Sen. Young has helped give this bad legislation new life.”