June 05, 2016
NYSARA leadership complete meetings with NYS legislative leaders
NYSARA President, Barry A. Kaufmann and Executive Director, John M. Costello recently completed initial meetings with the leaders of all the legislative conferences in New York State government. Beginning with our meeting and press conference with Senator Jeffrey Klein of the Independent Democratic Conference in February and ending with our meeting last week with Republican Minority leader of the Assembly Brian Kolb meetings were held with Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Democratic leader of the Senate, Senator John Flanagan, Republican Majority leader of the Senate and with the number one deputy of Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Louann Ciccone.
At these meetings NYSARA introduced ourselves and the 440,000 members we represent and detailed the number of our members that were constituents in each of the leaders districts. We talked about NYSARA’s recent change from a 501(c)3 to a 501(c)4 organization and shared with the leaders the implications of that change in terms of our involvement with issues that are important to us. We explained the diversity of our membership with union retirees, community agencies and community members. We thanked them for their parts in the recent budget that included paid family leave, increased minimum wage, the defeat of the Governor’s proposal to increase health care costs for retirees, giving tax breaks to seniors and taking initial actions to strengthen the EPIC program. We were asked by several leaders how minimum wage and paid family leave were issues that concerned us and we shared the rationale with them. They seemed to be sincerely surprised, but receptive to our point of view.
President Barry and Executive Director John shared our 2016 Senior agenda and asked each of the leaders what their agenda’s for seniors were and how we could help them to accomplish our common goals. We assured them that our goal was to promote and be honest brokers for issues that concern seniors in New York State. The issues of safe patient staffing, the potential Constitutional Convention in 2017 and, in the case of Assembly minority leader Kolb, the Assembly resolution (#1191) urging the United States Congress to oppose the ratification of the Trans Pacific Partnership free trade agreement were discussed. NYSARA detailed the national voting record analysis that the ARA does and informed them that our organization would be developing a NYS legislative voting record analysis after the end of session.
These meetings were successful at introducing our organization, making it more visible to the legislators and establishing a working relationship so NYSARA can be most effective in advocating for issues that are important to our members and NYS Seniors in general. In the coming months we will be attempting to meet with the Governor or his representative in order introduce our organization and to pursue our issues.