On Jan. 19, Vision Times spoke with recently re-elected Assemblyman Karl Brabanec (R), who represents New York’s 98th District in New York’s State Assembly, to discuss his priorities going into his fifth term and the challenges facing New Yorkers in his district.
Top of mind for Brabenec was thanking every voter who came out to vote in the midterm elections held last November.
“I want to thank each and every voter that came out and voted in the last election. We had a huge vote of confidence. We won by over 13,000 votes,” he said, adding that it was a very “humbling” experience and that he’s honored to have received so much support from the community.
He was quick to add that his role is to represent every New Yorker in his district. “You never get 100 percent of the vote … you will always have people who don’t support you but everyone is entitled to their opinion … Now that the election is over, we’re here to serve everybody, whether they’re Republican or Democrat,” or not affiliated with any party, he added.
‘New York’s favorite assemblyman’
He took the opportunity to bring attention to a new website his office developed last year, www.yourfavoriteassemblyman.com, where constituents can seek help with problems or issues they are facing and voice any concerns. “We try to be as accessible as possible and also to be available wherever possible,” he said.
You are now signed up for our newsletter
Check your email to complete sign up
“That’s the whole purpose of running, is to make your community better and to help out as many people as possible … We’ll be there for them regardless of whether they voted for us or not and we are happy to help everybody we can,” he said.
Going into his new term Brabenec said that New Yorkers, from all stripes, can expect “top notch constituent service” and that New Yorkers have a variety of ways to contact him including by phone, email or on social media.
He said, “we will try and fix the issue” or try to find the right person, agency or organization that can assist.
Cutting taxes and regulations
His priorities going into 2023 is to continue to fight to lower taxes and eliminate red tape that are barriers to getting things done, saying that cutting taxes and regulations is his “general philosophy.”
“On an economic standpoint we always want to lower the amount of taxes and regulations and provide more opportunity for everybody to be successful in the state,” he said.
Also a priority for Brabenec is supporting law enforcement and ensuring they have the resources, tools and training needed to be safe and effective as well as supporting veterans and the local agricultural community.
“If we have no farmers, we have no food,” he said, adding that the agricultural community needs “all the support in this point in time [so] that they can try to keep themselves sustainable and try to be successful in the future.”
A large swath of the 98th District is referred to as the “black dirt” region, due to its fertile, dark soil. “It’s probably one of the richest soils in the world,” he said.
On people fleeing the state
“We’ll oppose anything that we think is going to hurt the state or hurt our residents or force them to move,” he said adding that, “We have seen, in the past 10 years, that there’s been over a million people who have left the state because they can’t afford to live here anymore,” or because their quality of life could be better elsewhere. He said many are fleeing to states further south.
“We want the young people to come back from college and stay here and raise a family and we want senior citizens to stay here because they have lived here most of their lives,” he said.
“They’ve worked here, raised a family. They want to stay here because they love it here and a lot of the time they are forced to leave. We don’t want that. We want to keep them here. So, that’s very important and we are going to keep fighting every day to make that happen,” he added.
According to a report, published by moveBuddha, a site where people can calculate their moving costs, New York State lost more residents than any other state between April 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021. Over that period, the state lost 319,020 people.
- NY: Orange County Chamber of Commerce Holds a ‘Meet YOur New Elected Officials’ Business Breakfast
- International Flipper Pinball Association to Hold the NYS Pinball Championships in Middletown, NY
- Leonard’s Palazzo: A Luxurious Venue For All Your Catering & Event Needs
Driving this migration, in part, is the ongoing cost-of-living crisis impacting every New Yorker.
“One of the biggest problems is the property taxes, especially the school taxes because … a lot of the cost is given to property owners … 75 percent of your annual tax bill is your school taxes,” he said.
He says he would like to reform that, pointing out that he has already tabled a bill that will be re-introduced to try and lighten the tax burden over a five year period so that someone who once paid $20,000 would only be responsible for $5,000.00.
“And it’s very possible to do that. Whether it’s through my bill [or] there are a lot of other proposals out there to … change the way we fund our public school systems and keep our public school systems the greatest in the country,” he said, adding that, “if we bring all these ideas together I think we can make it happen. So that’s definitely always a top priority of mine.”
“We want to at the very least reform the bail reform law that was passed a couple of years ago. It was just one of the worst laws in the nation. It gives no accountability to people that break the law and it actually, in my opinion, encourages lawlessness in our communities,” Brabenec argued.
New York passed controversial bail reform in 2018 which was implemented in 2020 after which crime, of all kinds, skyrocketed across the state with many pointing to the bail reform laws as the culprit.
Brabenec said that the bail reform laws have since been “Watered down a little bit” that there is still work to be done.
“We have to give judges more discretion when they are hearing cases,” he said and that judges need more discretion when considering historical trends, the person’s past history and whether they are a repeat offender or not.
In addition, Brabenec believes that the parole system needs reforming as well. “We need to reform our parole system because a lot of people who aren’t ready to leave prison are leaving prison and they are re-committing crimes and they are hurting innocent people in our community and that’s not acceptable,” he said adding that he has a bill drafted to repeal bail reform completely.
“I would love to see it passed,” he said, but admitted that that was unlikely. However he said he would continue to “chip away at the boulder.”
A focus on the trades
“We have to have the best education system, public and private, and make sure that it works for all of our students,” Brabenec told Vision Times.
He touted the advantages for young people seeking an apprenticeship or entering a trade.
“A lot of things that we should focus on too are through our trades. Electricians, our plumbers, our carpenters, our laborers … A lot of them have apprenticeship programs and they are looking for great people that can go into those industries and we need those people in those industries to keep them going,” he argued adding that New York State has “awesome” programs that teach students in demand skills.
He believes that introducing students to trades has to start at the high school level and that the state’s community colleges “have certain programs … that are available to students to go into those apprenticeship programs because there is a lot of opportunity there for students … good wages and everything so, I think that is definitely something that should be encouraged.”