My Top Ten Priorities for the 2023 Legislative Session

2023 brings a new year, a new legislative session, and a new district to my colleagues and I up in Albany, and I’m feeling full of possibility when I think of what this year could hold.

As always I’m focused on delivering for our community and fighting to make New York a fairer, safer, and more affordable place where everyone has an opportunity to thrive. Here’s a snapshot of what I’m focusing on this year in Albany.

  1. Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC): At the end of last year, I introduced the WFTC to help families meet basic costs of living: putting food on their tables, affording new school shoes, heating their homes, and more. My legislation addresses the federal government’s failure to renew the incredibly successful expanded child tax credit, which successfully lifted 2.9m children out of poverty and drove the national rate of child poverty to a record low in 2021. The proposed WFTC will streamline the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Empire State Child Tax Credit (CTC) to give increased support to working families with children under 18, while lessening the additional cost to the state.
  2. Protecting immigrant communities: I’m excited to be the Senate sponsor of New York 4 All, legislation which prohibits state and local law enforcement from colluding with ICE and enforcing federal immigration law without a warrant. I’m excited to work with a state-wide coalition to get this done.
  3. Rethinking Higher Ed: As the son of two CUNY graduates and as a CUNY graduate myself, ensuring college is accessible to all and that we adequately invest in our public higher education systems has long been a legislative priority for me. We made great progress on funding the New Deal for CUNY in last year’s budget, but we have more to do. The New Deal for CUNY would reverse the decade-long decline in CUNY funding, make tuition more affordable, hire more professors, make essential building repairs, and making sure that CUNY continues to be the single greatest pathway to the middle class. Additionally, ensuring private colleges are accessible to New Yorkers based on merit and not family background or wealth is a key priority for me, and that means leveling the playing field by banning legacy admissions and binding early decision applications.
  4. Investing in the MTA: Our public transit is the lifeblood of our city — but right now, it needs our help to run as quickly, reliably, and efficiently as it can. The MTA is facing an existential funding crisis, as a result of the pandemic and reduced ridership. Nearly 40% of the MTA’s operating budget comes from rider revenues. We don’t fund our sanitation, fire, or police services this way, nor should we fund our transit system this way. You can read more about my thoughts on how to allow our transit system to become the best possible version of itself here.
  5. Housing: Everywhere you look, it’s painfully obvious that our city and our state’s housing ecosystem is on the brink. New York’s recovery relies on working- and middle-class families being able to find apartments in their price ranges, which is why we need to build more truly affordable housing and protect the affordable housing we already have. We also need to provide protections for tenants so that they are not needlessly and heartlessly thrown out of their homes due to unjustified rental increases or tenant harassment. It’s crucial we think outside the box, including legalizing accessory dwelling units (ADU’s) and incentivizing development across our state. We also need to finally tackle the gross inequities of New York City’s property tax system to provide fairness and housing stability across the city.
  6. Keeping reckless drivers off our streets: Nine years on, we have yet to achieve Vision Zero in our city — but with the passage of a number of my key street safety laws, we are currently closer than we have ever been. From passing laws to hold reckless drivers who kill pedestrians, to lowering the BAC in drivers to .05%, I’ll keep fighting for bold action to address speeding, hold reckless drivers accountable, support those impacted by crashes, and reduce overall hospitalizations due to traffic incidents.
  7. Stop Silencing Survivors Act: Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) silence victims of harassment and discrimination, plain and simple. They protect abusers and prevent employees from sharing information that could protect others from harm. My Stop Silencing Survivors Act will finally put an end to this predatory practice, and allow survivors to finally have full authority over their own trauma. This legislation bars employers from including a NDA or non-disparagement agreement in a waiver, settlement, agreement, or other resolution to an alleged violation of the human rights law or labor law. Agreements may still include language barring an employer from revealing the identity of an employee or the circumstances surrounding their complaint, providing important protections to victims who want privacy.
  8. The Future of the BQE: Our district spans 11 of the BQE’s 19 miles, creating an ugly scar on the face of so many Brooklyn communities. We now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to undo the legacy of Robert Moses and undo decades of environmental racism and community harm, as well as protect our planet and provide the 21st century infrastructure Brooklyn deserves. We need all levels of government to focus on a corridor-wide vision that minimizes vehicular traffic to two lanes in each direction and maximally caps the highway to limit the negative impacts on air quality, noise, and vibrations. No permanent solution can be devised without addressing the impact of trucking, last-mile warehousing, and the movement of freight throughout the corridor.
  9. Environmental justice: There is no denying that we need urgent action on all levels of government to address the climate crisis. I’m committed to working with coalition partners to pass the NY Renews package of bills, including the Build Public Renewables act, as well as addressing the more local concerns such as trucking, last-mile warehousing, and the movement of freight through environmental justice communities like Sunset Park and Red Hook.
  10. Child Data Privacy and Protection Act: In a world continually dominated by Big Tech, it is essential that we protect children from the darkest corners of the internet, and from the invasive predatory data collection and advertisement that too many tech companies engage in. My Child Data Privacy and Protection Act is a sweeping piece of legislation that would protect children online by creating new privacy standards for young users, end the predatory collection and sale of their personal data, and force social media companies to implement a host of new safety features.

Have ideas for further issues and legislation my team and I should be working on? Share your thoughts, suggestions, questions, and concerns with me via email at gounardes@nysenate.gov or call my office at 718–238–6044.

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