After 40 years in the State Senate, Republican Kenneth LaValle, 77, of Port Jefferson, is still among the chamber’s most prolific and effective lawmakers. One recent bill he co-authored will allow East End residents to vote next month to extend the Community Preservation Fund until 2050 and to use up to 20 percent of its revenues on water-quality projects. LaValle also has succeeded in bringing lots of money, including capital funds, to Stony Brook University.
Unlike some colleagues who want to tinker with the state tax cap, LaValle says correctly it should stay as is, and he also would place cap limits on arbitration awards for public unions. It’s an unequivocal position, and we welcome that. But he also says that even after four decades in Albany, he’s not sure whether capping outside income of legislators is a good idea. He seems willing to consider a limit combined with a salary increase; we challenge him to firm up that position, then use the status provided by the experience of which he boasts to rally fellow lawmakers.
Democrat Gregory-John Fischer, 59, of Calverton, is a business consultant and mentor to entrepreneurs. His tendency to think big — a cross-Sound tunnel, double-decking the Long Island Expressway — is sorely needed in the Senate and he is right about the need for a bottling and canning facility for East End farmers. He’s also correct that local industrial development agencies must be reformed, and he favors the elimination of cross-endorsements that place one candidate on several party lines on ballots. But he has a litigious bent that is off-putting, and his idea to ban the state teachers union from making campaign contributions is unconstitutional. And Fischer opposes more building projects at state colleges and universities, an odd position given Stony Brook’s growth and success.
While we like healthy debate in any legislative body, Fischer voice seems destined to be a lonely one. But we also expect LaValle to be a leader as vigorous as his tenure is long.
Newsday endorses LaValle.