In 2011, when the Senate Republicans fought for and won approval of the two-percent property tax cap, it was designed to slam the door on massive property tax hikes and give certainty to seniors and homeowners. The cap also included the promise to continue providing the resources that would help our schools and students succeed. In the years since, taxpayers have saved $23 billion, and funding for education has continued to grow. This year alone, the budget provides a record commitment for schools statewide that, when combined with STAR, totals approximately $29 billion.

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Senate Republicans tout higher number of women in conference

1511629_10153115677497925_368114028_o.jpgALBANY — As Republicans gavel the state Senate into session on Wednesday, they will do so with more female legislators in their ranks than ever before.

Seven of the chamber’s 31 Republicans are women — a higher number than in the chamber’s Democratic conference. The turnabout is the result of the retirement of Democratic Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, the decision of Sen. Marisol Alcantara to caucus with the chamber’s Independent Democratic Conference and the election of Republicans Elaine Phillips and Pam Helming.

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Flanagan1.jpgI am humbled and gratified that my colleagues in the Senate Republican conference have unanimously reelected me as their leader. After a campaign in which we faced extraordinary challenges and yet still managed to grow our majority in a Presidential year, I couldn't be more proud to lead this outstanding group of lawmakers.

Working together, our accomplishments are many - - a game-changing property tax cap, record support for schools and elimination of the GEA, a 20-percent middle class income tax cut, six straight budgets that have held the line on spending, targeted investments that will create jobs and revitalize our economy, and critical road and bridge funds for every region of the state.

Despite these achievements, there is more to be done. Our state is still not affordable for many working and middle class people, and we need to give them the help and hope they deserve. There still aren't enough opportunities for young people and older New Yorkers to live, work, and raise their families here. We continue to grapple with questions over how to best educate our children and how to continue to fully fund their schools. And, we have hard work ahead of us on heroin addiction, Lyme disease, and other important quality-of-life issues.

I welcome Chris Jacobs, Pam Helming, Jim Tedisco, and Elaine Phillips to our conference and look forward to working with them and all of our members to protect, strengthen, and grow New York.

JOHN FLANAGAN: More than lip service needed to strengthen New York

Flanagan1.jpgFormer Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, who heads the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, recently called for creation of an “Upstate Caucus” in Albany. While the focus on Upstate is certainly welcome, it’s unnecessary if it cannot deliver results.

After four years in the Executive Branch, Mr. Duffy should recognize there’s already a group within the state Legislature that is speaking out and standing up for Upstate New York. It’s the Senate Republicans.

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State Senate Republicans propose sweeping tax cuts for ‘middle class’

untitled.pngState Senate Republicans unveiled a sweeping middle-class ­income- tax-cut plan Wednesday that could be a bargaining chip as Gov. Cuomo pushes to boost the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

The proposed $3.5 billion cut would be phased in from 2018 through 2025 and save taxpayers an average of $897 each over seven years when fully implemented.

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