By Emily J Weitz
Now that you have a renewed mandate from your electorate, what are the issues at the top of your agenda?
Nationally, far and away the number one issue is job creation. Everything we do has to be related to this. One of the frustrations a great many of us have had is there hasn’t been enough focus on this and hopefully we will now.
How do you plan to accomplish these goals?
A couple of things: some of the pieces of the tax cut compromise that has been worked out can be very stimulative. Certainly the payroll tax reduction. Moving the Social Security tax from 6.2 to 4.2 percent will pump $120 billion into the economy over the next two years. That can be tremendously stimulative. The other is the allowing of small businesses to expense 100% of their investments, which can be very stimulative as well. I have a real optimism about those two things. We also have to focus on full and robust reauthorization of the Surface Transportation Bill, or the Highway Bill. That is a proven job creator in my opinion.
What does that look like in New York?
We’re going to see federal dollars coming to New York for road and bridge jobs that will put more people to work. The bill deals with all forms of transportation, including mass transit, rail, roads and bridges. We have a crumbling infrastructure. We are trying to run a 21st century economy on 20th century infrastructure. We must take on this effort. What challenges do you foresee with the new makeup of the House? The Surface Transportation Bill, for example, will be a heavy lift. The bill doesn’t have much support among Republicans. It will require real leadership from the White House to get that done.I’m very concerned about that.
Are there any other issues that are particularly important to you?
There are a lot. But it’s important to get the federal government to pay attention to New York. I serve on an education committee and there’s an important piece of financial aid policy: the Perkins Student Loan Program. Higher education is a huge industry on Long Island. I am going to work very hard on that. Also, the Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation Study, which deals with shoreline protection and storm damage. This study has been going on far too long and we want to end it. It will recommend a whole series of actions to help protect our shorelines. My job is to see that they get funded.
What do you want the public to know about your philosophy as an elected official? Well, I believe I have been elected and my principal job is to represent my constituents and to help solve problems. The piece of our work I am most proud of is the work we’ve done assisting individual constituents. We have helped thousands over the time I’ve been in office. I’m proud of how I’ve partnered with every other elected official in this local government to bring the federal government to the local level. These are two things I believe in strongly: constituent service and bringing the power of the federal government to help resolve local problems.