Bichotte: Legislators should focus on education, ethics, economy
As the Assemblymember from the 42nd Assembly District, I legislate with purpose. My plan for New York, The Bichotte Plan, maintains three core principles, which I call the “3 E’s” – education reform, economic development and ethics reform. These principles will serve as building blocks toward excellence.
I believe that for New Yorkers, access to an equitable education is a constitutional right. The future of our global economy is in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics. STEM should be strongly emphasized in our core curriculum as a way to ensure that the pipeline of college-to-job readiness is accessible for our young adults. But in order to handle the rigors of STEM, we must also ensure that students have a solid foundation with a robust early childhood education. For this reason, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s universal pre-K plan is an indispensable initiative, and I have supported it from the beginning. Let’s also keep in mind that we have to fully restore the funds that are already owed to our public schools, such as in the case of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, which calls for $4.4 billion in aid to New York City public schools.
The state’s economy is still bleeding from the Great Recession, and many of my constituents continue to feel its effects. By identifying more opportunities for small businesses and mandating higher participation goals on government contracts for Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE), we can help overhaul the city’s economy.
As chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Oversight of MWBEs, I sponsored three pieces of legislation to do just that. Assembly Bill A8044-a increases discretionary award values in New York City; Assembly Bill 8700 mandates that all state funding to municipalities and localities have a MWBE participation goal that aligns with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s statewide proposal; Assembly Bill 9074 seeks to include a mandatory MWBE participation goal for any projects receiving tax incentives and credits, such as the 421-a tax exemption program. I believe that tax exemption programs should include mandates for more affordable housing development and stronger rent laws. Stable and affordable housing is a key component to a high quality of life and the ability to progress. I also support increasing the current minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2018, even though it is clear that this wage would still not be indexed to the current rate of inflation or the cost of living.
With corruption convictions, and a long history of lavish, unsustainable lifestyles, Albany is perceived to be a self-interested legislative body that cares little about working in the interest of New Yorkers. I recently wrote an op-ed detailing my position on ethics reform. These reforms are aligned with the proposals Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie introduced last year that would strip taxpayer-funded pensions from public officials convicted of corruption, increase the disclosure of legislators’ outside income to prevent conflicts of interest and close the LLC loophole to reduce the influence of big money in politics. The responsibilities of a state legislator have evolved over time from being a part-time job. Just as the City Council has recently proposed being reclassified as full-time legislators, we in the Assembly and the Senate should do the same. After all, the work of the people is a full-time job.
When Albany is reformed, our economy will thrive through good governance. When our economy thrives, our education system can be more efficiently utilized. The Bichotte Plan is New York’s plan. These goals are idealistic considering the politics involved, but the expected gridlock will not stop my persistence in restoring excellence to New York state.
Rodneyse Bichotte is a state Assemblywoman for the 42nd District.