Time to focus on the basics in New York

By Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo | March 6, 2024

State Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-123rd), said the New York Legislature needs to attend to basic issues, including education, healthcare and housing.

Since the Legislature reconvened in Albany, I’ve been talking about the need to “focus on the basics.” I’m referring to basics such as education, healthcare, food, housing, workforce, child care, public safety, and human services. If we add the challenges we face from climate change, we have a full plate of “basics” that need to be addressed.

We are still experiencing the economic, mental health, and social aftershocks of the pandemic. COVID exposed weaknesses caused by years of underfunding and brought to light many difficult personal and social issues. I know that we can help our communities get back on track if government and community leaders work together and focus on the basics. The state budget we’re currently working on provides an opportunity for us to zero in on what’s most important.

Attention to urgent issues communities are facing would be a good starting point. Nursing homes, for example, have been closing around the state due to a funding formula that dates back to 2007. With 15,000 beds already off-line, logjams are happening in hospitals and emergency rooms across the state. EMS have their own set of issues causing potential delays in life-saving calls. In many ways, the entire healthcare delivery system is at risk, because the state has not kept up with basic investments in home care, assisted living, hospitals, long-term care, and emergency services.

Regarding the local economy, we have more jobs available than people to fill them. We also have some of the highest poverty levels in the state when measured by percentage of population. There are many people in our community who, with the right supports, would take advantage of workforce training, financial literacy programs, apprenticeships, and other educational opportunities. BOCES and SUNY Broome are key to our economic recovery, providing training in important areas like nursing, advanced manufacturing, and skilled trades. They need to be supported along with Binghamton University, our premier SUNY Center.

A strong workforce also needs quality, affordable child care, which is in short supply. We have available slots, but many places lack staff. These professionals are often underpaid and are stressed by worsening child behavioral issues and difficult state regulations. We are trying to address this before more centers close or scale back further.

Another basic issue is housing. We need all types of housing, including support for the homeless, safe and affordable rental housing, new single-family homes, and senior-friendly housing. The lack of housing is putting a stress on all aspects of our quality of life. It’s also sending the wrong message to companies and people who want to locate or stay here.

I’ve highlighted just a few of the issues I’m working on in a bi-partisan way; looking to raise awareness and advance workable solutions. I remain committed to doing my part to be of service, and recently announced plans to seek re-election. This is a critical time, one where experience with the “basics” is needed now more than ever.

Donna Lupardo represents New York’s 123rd Assembly District, which includes the City of Binghamton and the towns of Vestal and Union.