NEW YORK – On November 4th Dean Skelos was elected to the New York State Senate for the 16th time, for which he appreciates the support of his constituents, but what made his hard work during the campaign season worthwhile was not only the Republican triumph across America, but the victories in New York State that enabled them to retain control in the state senate, where he is the majority leader.
“It was a great day. Very successful and I am delighted about it,” he told The National Herald.
But the Republican warrior loves his state more than anything else.
“The elections are over and now it’s time to govern…We understand that people want results and they want bipartisanship,” he said.
His record as Majority Leader shows he has worked well with Governor Cuomo these past four years. “We have had four on-time budgets. We have controlled spending. We have not raise taxes and fees and we eliminated a $10 billion deficit.”
The economy is the priority for citizens, but they also want more progress in the fight against corruption.
“We’ve enacted many reforms,” he said, including important measures that call for disclosure of clients and outside income. “We have increased penalties for failure to disclose. There have been a lot of positive changes, and there are other things to be done. We’ll look at them and if appropriate we’ll pass them.”
In order to stimulate economic growth in the state Skelos said “we have cut manufacturing taxes and corporate taxes and we have made investments in the state university system in those areas so they can start creating jobs,” he said.
“If it’s found to be safe, we need fracking to extract natural gas, especially in New York’s southern tier, which will create thousands of jobs, bring huge amounts of revenue to the state and lower energy costs that will boost manufacturing.
“That’s exactly what has happened in Pennsylvania.”
Skelos is excited about America becoming energy self-sufficient “in a safe and clean way,” in areas where watersheds would not be threatened.
His biggest mission is controlling taxes. “We passed a property tax cap which has forced local governments to show discipline in how they spend taxpayers’ money.”
CHANGE IS NOT ONLY NEEDED IN ALBANY
Skelos addressed the myriad of small and overlapping municipal units and authorities that are considered a great drain on resources.
“We have set up incentives for consolidation of services. We have also eliminated hundreds of unnecessary authorities,” he said, adding that there is authorization for merger of local governments. “We have seen that happen, especially upstate. We are seeing some of smaller school districts starting to merge and being more efficient.”
“The governor and I support that, but that is based on local home rule,” he said, and urges citizens to push for such reforms in their communities.
Regarding what will happen in Washington, he told TNH “there is an opportunity now that the people have decided they want Republicans to control the two houses. I believe they will start passing legislation to send to the president and let the president decide whether he is supportive or not. There has been inertia there. Whether it Republicans or Democrats or the lack of leadership by the president, there is no substantive conversation going on about how to move the nation forward.”
HUMBLE ORIGINS, PROUD OF HIS ROOTS
Born, raised and educated in Rockville Centre on Long Island, Skelos attended Fordham Law School at night while he worked during the day. His family has been stalwarts at the Cathedral of St. Paul in Hempstead and he still lives in Rockville Centre with his wife, Gail. His son Adam has presented his parents with two grandchildren.
Skelos was the first member of the community to be elected to the state assembly and the state senate and he is very pleased and proud that other Hellenes have joined him.
“We have Greek-Americans in the legislature from different parts of the state, not just the City, both Republicans and Democrats and that’s something we should all be proud of,” but he believes the community can go further.
“More young Greek-Americans should start getting involved at the local level with the party of their choice, and eventually the opportunity may come to run for office. Get involved that’s the only way it’s going to happen.”
Skelos was at the ground blessing for the new St. Nicholas Shrine at Ground Zero. “I had the honor of laying one of the cornerstones.”
He worked closely with Governor Cuomo to move the rebuilding of St. Nicholas forward, and Skelos noted that former Governor George Pataki looked out for the Church after the attack in 2001.
“It is a very important personal matter to me as a member of the Orthodox faith,” he said. “It will be a place where people can pray or just go and meditate and think about what occurred on 9/11 and pray that it never happen again.”