Assemblyman James Skoufis had a scoop for the audience at the Cornwall Public Library. “You’re going to see something positive on the Cornwall Campus of the hospital,” he said. But he wouldn’t divulge what it was.
Mr. Skoufis was at the library for a “Community Conversation” on May 11. He was secretive about the hospital’s plans, but he shared his opinions on everything else — including his personal life. He will be getting married on May 20.
The Assemblyman was also candid about his differences with fellow Democrat, Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Mr. Skoufis was disappointed in the governor’s free college tuition plan — complaining that it covers just a small percentage of SUNY students, and citing a drawback to the provision that scholarship recipients must work in New York State.
Mr. Skoufis said there are a lot of people who live and pay property taxes in New York but work somewhere else. Many Orange County residents, for example, commute to jobs in New Jersey,
The Assemblyman attributed the late STAR exemption checks to a change in accounting procedure that allowed the governor to keep his budget under the tax cap. And he blamed the governor for vetoing a bill that would have provided more oversight for annexations. Gov. Cuomo claimed that the bill was unconstitutional, but his opinion contradicted a memo he received from the Department of State,
When asked about medical marijuana, Mr. Skoufis reported that the growers were losing money because there weren’t many doctors prescribing it. He did mention that, in the future, marijuana could legally be used for the treatment of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
Mr. Skoufis was frank in describing his relationship with Mr. Cuomo, whom he accused of “governing by headlines. “I’m one of his least favorite Assemblyman,” the Woodbury legislator admitted.
But Mr. Skoufis seemed popular with the 60 people who packed the Community Room on Tuesday night. “You’re energy is appreciated,” Cornwall-on-Hudson resident Led Klosky said. And Library Director Mary Lou Carolan brought out a cake and sparkling punch to celebrate the Assemblyman’s imminent wedding.
-”I’m extremely bothered when I see a pot hole,” James Skoufis admitted. Work will continue on the Palisades Parkway this summer. Other roads due to get attention are Route 17 in Tuxedo, 32 in Woodbury, and 32 from the Moodna Creek bridge to the Five Corners in Cornwall. The latter project will be a million dollar job, because it requires extensive drainage work.
-”It’s hard to put a contingency in place when we don’t know what the American Health Care Act will look like,” Mr. Skoufis said in response to a question from Wynn Gold. The Assemblyman said that the legislature may be called back into session if a health care bill passes.
-”I hear very few people say they want to retire to New York State,” the guest speaker quipped when a Washingtonville resident said he would probably have to move after he stops working. High property taxes were a recurring theme at the meeting. Virginia Scott noted that, these days, the government is foreclosing more often than banks. Mr. Skoufis acknowledged that “the property tax is the most regressive tax we have.”
-When Carla Castillo asked how towns could improve their chances of getting grants, Mr. Skoufis referred to Highland Falls’ success in getting a grant to refurbish Main Street, and suggested that other communities might use that as a model.
-”You’ve done your homework,” Mr. Skoufis acknowledged when an audience member suggested convening a Council of States. As an alternative, the Assemblyman reminded people that this year’s ballot will ask them if they want to call a state constitutional convention. “We haven’t touched the state constitution in a long time,” Mr. Skoufis said.
SERVICING OLD AND YOUNG
Assemblyman James Skoufis recently presented a diploma to a man who had left high school to enlist in the military during wartime. The presentation coincided with the man’s 90th birthday.
The recipient was surprised but far from speechless. Upon receiving the diploma, he quipped, “Now I can go to college.”
After meeting Mr. Skoufis at their school in Washingtonville, second-graders sent him letters with advice for his marriage. “Don’t get a dog and a ferret,” one youngster recommended.
The boy went on to explain that his family had both pets, but the dog got angry at the ferret and ate it.