WHITE PLAINS, NY — In an exclusive program for Westchester business leaders, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie fielded questions on a wide range of topics at The Business Council of Westchester’s Political Leadership Series held this week in Rye Brook.
Among the topics discussed during the 90-minute program were paid family leave, raising the minimum wage, the Scaffold Law, and the state’s tax cap and its impact on local business improvement districts.
Heastie, who is one of the state’s top political leaders, gave a candid assessment of the issues legislators face in Albany and talked about what lies ahead for this year’s legislative session. He said he was most proud of the gains made this year toward improving the state’s crumbling infrastructure and the investment in education.
“We were able to get $1.7 billion to schools and classrooms and an increase in foundation aid and end gap elimination,” he said, referring to a school aid take back that ended this year. “We have a lot to be proud of.’’
Heastie defended an increase in the minimum wage, which the BCW and other business groups have opposed, saying that it would ultimately help the state’s economy by reducing poverty. “I’ve always felt that one of the best ways to stimulate the economy is to put money into people’s pockets,’’ he said.
In answer to a question from Tayrn Duffy of Empire City Casino about priorities for next legislative session, Heastie said he would continue to focus on economic development and repairing the state’s roads and bridges. “We want this to be a state where people want to come and do business,’’ he said.
Heastie, who represents the 83rd A.D. in the northeast Bronx, was elected Speaker last February, and is the first African American to serve as Speaker of the New York State Assembly.
Heastie is the latest elected official to participate in the BCW’s Political Leadership Series, which has featured Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul; Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan; Secretary to the Governor William J. Mulrow and MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast.
John Ravitz, Executive Vice President and COO of the Business Council, who served as emcee and moderator of the event, said the BCW series has presented a unique opportunity for its members to have access to Albany’s leaders.
“The BCW will continue to fulfill its commitment to bring the leaders of all branches of government to Westchester to meet with the business community,’’ said Ravitz.
The Leadership Series will continue with the Road to the White House on Oct. 28 with top state officials, political pundits and media weighing in on the Presidential and statewide elections.