EDITORIAL: State GOP has good ideas, but needs to work on messaging

The state Capitol Building in Albany.
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The state Capitol Building in Albany.

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With New York’s executive and legislative branches controlled heavily by Democrats, it’s virtually impossible for Republicans to get traction on any parts of their state legislative agenda without Democrats clearing the way.

But given the many problems faced by the state that one-party leadership has yet to solve, it would behoove Democrats to consider some of the Republicans’ proposals and work with to put some of their ideas into motion.

Lost in the annual hullabaloo of the governor’s state of the state message, Republicans introduced their own legislative agenda they called “Rescue New York.”

Their general goals for rescuing New York are reasonable and sound: Make the state safer, stronger and affordable by reducing taxes, controlling state spending, providing high-quality education, reducing crime, promoting economic development, investing in infrastructure, helping seniors and vets, and restoring accountability.

How can you lose with that platform?

The GOP plan also offers some reasonable specifics that Democrats should consider.

On crime, for instance, Republicans want to invest more state dollars into local law enforcement, increase funding for gun interdiction efforts and create or strengthen laws to deter the use of illegal guns, and giving judges more discretion in bail decisions and disposition of drug cases.

On other topics: To address mental health concerns, they want to expand access to mental health services in schools and increase the availability of mental health treatment options. To help seniors, they want to invest more in nursing homes and provide tax relief for seniors on private pensions and retirement income. In education, they want to expand school choice, set higher standards for performance, provide grants for school resources officers and invest federal aid to close the pandemic learning gap.

These are all legitimate proposals to debate and consider. But if Republicans want to have any input into the operation of state government, they’re going to have to tone down some of their rhetoric and modify some of their other goals.

For instance, they need to pull back on efforts to totally get rid of bail reform, discovery reform, the solitary confinement reform, elder parole and sentencing reform. These Democratic programs might not be perfect, but the reforms are necessary to ensure a fair and equitable criminal justice system that also protects public safety.

The Republican alarmism might play well during campaigns, but it’s not sound policy.

If Republicans want to have input and be taken seriously in a government controlled by Democrats, they need to focus less on wild rhetoric and more on sound policy proposals.

They’ve got some good ideas.

They now need to work on refining their messaging so that they’re heard not only by Democrats, but by all New Yorkers.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

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