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ASSEMBLYMAN MICHAEL NORRIS HONORS
“HOMETOWN HEROES” AT AWARD CEREMONY

JULY 19, 2021

On Tuesday, July 13th New York State Assemblyman Mike Norris hosted his 2020 Hometown Heroes Award Ceremony at the Lockport Palace Theatre in Lockport, NY. 


The award ceremony recognized and honored over 50 community members and/or organizations including first responders, nurses, frontline workers, law enforcement, volunteer firefighters, emergency management response team members, businesses, and volunteers throughout the 144th Assembly District that stepped up and went above and beyond to help our community during the COVID-19 pandemic.  


Many health care workers and staff of the Niagara County Department of Health, Eastern Niagara Hospital and Niagara County Office of Emergency Management were recognized and honored for their outstanding and relentless service and selflessness throughout the pandemic. (List of all Eastern Niagara Hospital honorees is attached)


Eastern Niagara Hospital CEO, Anne McCaffrey provided a keynote address for the evening recognizing the service of the awardees, “Many of the awardees recognized at this event are those who were and still are on the front lines of the pandemic. From Eastern Niagara hospital we have numerous employees who go above and beyond every day, and the COVID 19 pandemic was no different. While there were many aspects of the Pandemic that we would all like to forget, there are many more aspects that remind us of who we are, a resilient community who never wavered in our responsibility to care for and serve one another."


She continued, “Assemblyman Norris is an ardent supporter of our men and women in healthcare, emergency services, law enforcement, and public health and I can say firsthand that he is leader that cares deeply about this community and is known to shine the light on community members who stand out and meet the needs of their neighbors no matter how difficult the circumstance.”


Local businesses including Uncle Jumbo’s, a Clarence based Distillery, owned by Nick Kotrides and his sons Alex and Chris, were recognized for their efforts during the early days of the Pandemic.  Their Distillery worked with the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to gain approval to begin producing and bottling hand sanitizer to distribute and sell locally when there was a nationwide shortage.


Community volunteers and good citizens were also honored, including William A. Lorenz, Jr., who as an attorney by day, finds himself in his off-work time since 2014, volunteering countless hours serving as “Buffalo’s Best Batman,” dressed up as the costumed superhero, at charitable events raising thousands of dollars for local organizations.  During the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, Will appeared at socially distanced birthday parties, parades, and collected food and supplied donations to local food and blood drives, providing groceries, smiles and needed support to his community throughout this dreaded pandemic. 


“The last year was undoubtedly a very tough time for so many people, but it also brought out the very best in our community as well.,” said Norris. “These individuals exemplified the absolute best of our community during these tough times, and for that I want to make sure that our neighbors, our community, and the Great State of New York recognize and thank them for their service during this time. It takes a special dedication to help others in need and your commitment is truly worthy of this distinguished honor.” 


 “I am so honored to live in and represent Western New York in the New York State Assembly and serve our community alongside so many individuals that worked so tirelessly to keep their neighbors safe, went above and beyond to provide service to our community and offer relief for others in need.”

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BUDGET IS ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF WHAT’S WRONG WITH NYS

April 7, 2021

Before the COVID-19 crisis, New York had a serious “tax-and-spend” problem. Now, during the pandemic recovery period, is certainly not the time to go on a reckless spending spree that will ultimately further hinder the ability of our citizens to survive and remain in New York State. Unfortunately, Albany’s downstate-driven leadership simply could not help themselves and continued to accelerate an already speeding tax-and-spend freight train which is clearly heading towards the edge of a cliff. 

    Breaking the state’s 2 percent annual spending cap, this budget increases spending by more than 6.6 percent. That’s an increase of $34 billion. Let that sink in. This is the most expensive budget in state history at over $212 billion in overall spending and will raise taxes permanently by more than $4.5 billion. Our state debt is the second highest in the country, and this budget only increases it further, indebting even more generations of New Yorkers...or whoever is left behind to turn out the lights.

    It’s sadly true. Over one million New Yorkers have already left since Governor Cuomo took office because of overspending and “tax-and-spend” policies. As they have left, they have taken with them jobs, their tax revenue and the New Yorkers left behind have been asked to pony up a greater share of their incomes to make up the difference. While the financial cost is difficult to bear, the human cost is crushing. Families are broken up, lives are changed forever. The pandemic exposed the new American diaspora in ways that technology will never make up for. And budgets like this are directly responsible for it.
    
    This budget was an opportunity to set our state on a new fiscal course. With $12.5 billion coming in from Washington, we could have passed a balanced budget this year but also make one time investments in infrastructure, broadband connectivity, or pay down debt to help address the high cost of living in our state to curb outmigration. 

    Instead, downstate-driven leaders at our state Capitol chose to create a new multi billion program to provide unemployment payments worth more than $15,000 per individual to undocumented persons. They also chose to strip away even more of your local control when it comes to the taxing of massive energy projects like wind or solar farms in local jurisdictions. For all the reasons outlined above, I voted against the state budget in its entirety. 

    However, having been appointed as a member of the Joint Budget Conference Committee on Transportation in addition to my role on the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, this year I had a greater opportunity to serve during the budget process. Having worked very hard on key priorities for our community I am pleased to share that many of them have been included in the final budget agreement, including:

•    INFRASTRUCTURE: The Consolidated Local Street and Highway Program (CHIPS) will be seeing its first funding increase in nine years with $100 million in new funding. The Extreme Winter Recovery Program will also get another $100 million.


•    BROADBAND: I was a sponsor of the Comprehensive Broadband Connectivity Act and worked across the aisle with my colleagues to get this bill passed in 2020. Unfortunately, the governor did not sign the bill into law at the time. However, we were able to persuade him to include it in the final negotiations and it was included in the final budget.

•    LIBRARIES: Many of our libraries are historic and in need of capital improvements, but Albany has not given this funding the attention it needed. I’ve worked hard to raise awareness for this year and an additional $20 million was included in the final budget agreement. This nearly doubles their funding allotment.

•    VETERANS: One of the most successful programs to help veterans is the Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Peer Counseling Program. The governor proposed cutting the program, but not only were we able to restore it, nearly half a million dollars more in funding was added to further the mission of this wonderful program.

•    DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES: The budget also expands services for people with developmental disabilities in terms of day services and family support. All of the governor’s proposed cuts were restored and new funding was also added to this vulnerable population.

•    WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT: As the chair of the Assembly Minority Learning for Work Task Force, I am very pleased to see workforce development initiatives similar to those championed by our task force included in the budget.

    I’m glad to report we have made progress, but quite frankly these appropriations are a drop in the bucket in this reckless spending plan. The bottom line is that the budget over spends in unsustainable ways and further divides upstate and downstate in its spending priorities. Ultimately this will continue driving people out of state, hurting everyone in the future.