CAPITOL -- State Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, has been permanently appointed chairman of the state Legislative Commission on Rural Resources, after holding the position on an interim basis much of last year.
Santabarbara said he will promote the needs of rural counties and communities, including the need for more support for rural volunteer ambulance services, 26 of which have gone out of business around the state.
He said he was disappointed that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo didn't address rural issues in his recent State of the State presentation, and he'll use his new post to push for state action on issues facing rural areas across the state. Among those issues are troubled ambulance services, inadequate cellphone coverage, and limited access to broadband internet services. He said he'll push to have those issues addressed in the next state budget.
"It's absolutely critical that we get these counties the resources and support they need to flourish," he said. "In my second year as chair of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources, I look forward to working with my colleagues to find new ways to address the concerns of our rural communities and ensure their voices are heard loud and clear in Albany."
Santabarbara last year introduced a bill calling for the Legislature to establish a rural ambulance task force.
"Ambulance services in our rural communities face distinct challenges, such as longer travel times, inclement weather and poor road conditions," he said. "They're also facing financial strain that's affecting their ability to stay open."
The 10-member Legislative Commission on Rural Resources was established in 1982, and includes five members each from both the state Senate and Assembly.
Other Assembly members of the commission are Barbara Lifton, D-Ithaca, Philip A. Palmesano, R-Corning, Mark Walczyk, R-Watertown, and Carrie Woerner, D-Round Lake. The Senate members of the committee are Chairwoman Rachel May, D-Syracuse, Neil Breslin, D-Albany, Jen Metzger, D-Rosendale, Pamela Helming, R-Canandaigua, and Patty Ritchie, R-St. Lawrence County.