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Smullen gives his response to Cuomo’s ‘State of the State’

ALBANY — State Assemblyman Robert Smullen is responding to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “State of the State” address this week with some criticism, and offering his own goals for the new year.

Fulton and Hamilton counties’ Republican representative from the 118th Assembly District was in session this morning and couldn’t be reached for further comment.

But he issued a press statement Monday about the Democratic governor’s address, and provided his own goals for the 2021 Assembly Session.

“Frankly, I felt the governor’s statement today rang hollow, despite all the rhetoric,” Smullen said. “The attention to the distribution of vaccines was good, along with the attention to broadband access that I’ve been championing. But beyond that, he seemed to be unconcerned with the structural budget deficit caused by overspending. We’ll see over the next three days of his presentations if anything changes, but I have no reason to think my concerns about good governance are wrong.”

Smullen said he is hopeful for the future of New York state. Regarding what he called the “multitude of initiatives” underway at the state Assembly, the town of Johnstown resident said he is directing his energy towards three issues that need attention: Vaccine access to those who need it most, getting the economy fully open, and infrastructure issues like broadband.

He also elaborated on vaccine access for the state at large.

“An incredible number of injections are being done, and I want to be sure we get our priority share,” Smullen said. “I understand it’s the state who is getting the initial batches from the federal shipments, but the local county agencies need to be directly involved in distribution planning. If not, we know what state bureaucracy can do to any well-intentioned idea. I want to ensure that our frontline responders, and vulnerable elderly citizens in Upstate New York are not left hanging out to dry due to NYC bias. Fully reopening the economy means trusting the people and their local governments to encourage vaccination, not mandating it. Combined with following disease prevention protocols, we can continue to lift blanket restrictions on small businesses. We can then help those small businesses with JumpStart New York type initiatives, which repurpose wasteful tax dollars to our citizens upon whom our economy rely upon to create jobs.”

Smullen said Broadband access in rural New York is a “huge lesson learned” in this pandemic, especially in many Northern New York districts. He said students need it for school and people need it for commerce and for working from home, and for telemedicine.

“The demand is high, but there are pockets of isolation and poor service, and the state needs to help incentivize and de-regulate its development to ensure 100 percent coverage,” Smullen said. “And of course our constitutional rights will continue to be challenged this year. One party rule ensures that legislative overreach is on the horizon, but rest assured, I will be right there to meet the challenge head-on.”

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