James successfully fought to make the property tax cap permanent as well as lower our state income taxes to their lowest levels in 70 years. He knows there’s more work to be done which is why he’s pushing for real reform.
James is pushing to make sure Wall Street and billionaires pay their fair share so middle-class families can catch a break. During his time in the State Legislature, he broke with his party 226 separate times to vote against middle-class tax hikes.
James believes we must find a new, better way to fund our schools and local governments: the property tax system is broken and needs an overhaul. Right now, working- and middle-class families, especially senior citizens, unfairly pay a disproportionate amount of their income to property taxes. James won’t stop fighting until we find a more equitable, better way forward.
When developers have tried to railroad other communities in the Hudson Valley, James has often been the lone elected official in Albany to put a stop to it. He has and will continue to fight to make sure every community plays by the same set of rules.
James authored legislation to update the state’s antiquated village incorporation laws that have allowed communities to be taken hostage by hostile developers. He also authored and passed legislation to unmask shady, anonymous real estate LLCs and successfully fought to enact a new law that requires additional oversight of all public water wells, including the Kiryas-Joel owned well in Mountainville.
James is the only candidate who has a proven record of cleaning up corruption in Albany to make sure that our leaders are putting Hudson Valley residents ahead of their own bottom lines. As Chairman, James completely revitalized the Senate’s investigations committee to get real answers for all New Yorkers.
In his first year leading the investigations committee, James scrutinized lax building code enforcement; drug company middle-men who were ripping off our seniors; so-called economic development agencies that were ripping off our taxpayers; anti-consumer event ticketing practices; and illegal housing discrimination. His committee is now examining the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in nursing homes, hospitals, and the workplace.
James has also supported important legislation that looks to take money out of politics and return our democracy where it belongs: to the people.
When giant corporations sought millions of dollars in tax breaks, forcing local residents to pick up the tab, James stood up and told them to “pay your damn taxes.”
Alongside Town of Montgomery residents, James called on Medline Industries to withdraw their tax-break application and announced a formal investigation into their lucrative proposal. Just one day before Medline’s deadline to respond to the investigative inquiry, the corporation withdrew its tax-break proposal, resulting in $10 million in savings for taxpayers.
In Albany, James introduced a package of bills to better protect taxpayers when corporations seek taxpayer-funded incentives including: banning subsidies when the project occupant is kept secret, prohibiting elected officials from serving on boards that hand out incentives, banning tax breaks to projects that are already under development, and closing a loophole that allows tax breaks to be used to lure companies from one part of the state to another.
James has championed a strong public education, securing full-day Kindergarten for all students regardless of zip code, delivering record funding for the schools he represents, and, in the wake of the pandemic, securing essential supplies for students, teachers, and their classrooms.
James is a product of an excellent public education and knows every child deserves the same. James led the successful fight to deliver universal full-day kindergarten in New York State, including securing the funding necessary for both the North Rockland and Washingtonville School Districts to fully transition to full-day programs. He also voted to successfully end a draconian teacher evaluation system that would lead to more teaching to the test.
As State Senator, he has worked every day to ensure that Hudson Valley schools get their fair share of funding, stood strong against the misuse of standardized testing, and fought to improve the Governor’s Excelsior Scholarship that only benefits 4% of SUNY and CUNY undergraduates.
James knows that roads are a quality of life issue which is why he has focused on advancing our region’s infrastructure, improving a significant number of state roads and bridges across the district.
He also secured targeted 9W and Route 202 maintenance in Haverstraw; a full repaving of Route 32 in Woodbury; resurfacing of Route 52 between Pine Bush and Walden, Route 32 in Plattekill, Route 32 in New Windsor, Route 44/55 in Plattekill, Route 9W in Marlborough, and Route 94 in New Windsor. Millions of additional dollars were secured to repair or replace six bridges along Route 9W in New Windsor, Cornwall, and Highlands.
While significant strides have been made since women gained the right to vote in 1920, they often remain disadvantaged in society and workplace. That’s why James has fought to level the playing field and ensure that women are treated and respected equally under the law.
At a time when many women continue to be forced out of the workplace – often permanently – due to motherhood, James championed a nation-leading paid family leave law that ensures women never have to choose between taking care of a newborn and paying the bills. He’s also helped pass legislation that requires equal pay for equal work so women don’t earn less for doing the same job as their male counterparts.
James also believes medical decisions ought to be made between a woman and her doctor, which is why he helped pass legislation that codifies Roe vs. Wade into New York State law. He also successfully championed the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act that requires all insurance companies cover the cost of contraception in their health plans.
James knows that the sustainability of our environment depends on the decisions we make today and that future generations are counting on us.
James was appointed to a small legislative group that developed the Climate Leadership Community Protection Act, the most aggressive state climate change plan in the entire nation.
Last summer, he called on the State Department of Health to implement the Water Quality Council’s recommended PFAS levels, and a week later, the DOH Commissioner accepted the recommendations. He’s a strong supporter of preserving open space in the Hudson Valley and will always fight to protect our natural resources from over-development.
During his six years in the Assembly and first term in the Senate, James has fought against those who have tried to take advantage of our senior citizens.
Over the past year, James stood up to three of the largest property management companies in the country when they tried to price senior citizens out of their homes. James took the fight to the executives directly, resulting in all three companies slashing their rent increases.
During his time in the State Legislature, James has stood up to those who have tried to cut the Enhanced STAR program and other benefits that seniors rely on. James also successfully worked to save Valley View Nursing Home when adversaries in the Orange County Legislature tried to sell the facility to the highest bidder.
James has been a consistent champion for disability rights and continues to pass legislation expanding resources for individuals with disabilities.
Last session, James authored and enacted two key bills: one extends a property tax benefit to active members of the armed forces who are severely disabled, and the other enables closed captioning on televisions in public areas for visually-impaired New Yorkers. He also sponsored legislation to open a state advocacy office for the rights of people with disabilities.
James served as Chairman of the Task Force on People with Disabilities and authored a constitutional amendment to include disability rights under the equal protection requirement. James additionally introduced and enacted a law that ensures students with disabilities have the opportunity to participate in high school graduation ceremonies.
CHILD VICTIMS ACT
James led the effort in the State Senate to finally pass the Child Victims Act, legislation that updates the state’s antiquated, harmful sexual abuse laws. For far too long, survivors were often left with no recourse to seek justice or hold their perpetrators accountable.
For decades, Albany catered to special interests and refused to pass the Child Victims Act. That changed when James Skoufis arrived in the State Senate. In his very first month, James successfully fought to pass the Child Victims Act, protecting our children and ensuring offenders of these atrocious acts are brought to justice.
RESPONDING TO COVID-19
James understands the seriousness of the pandemic and has always been a fierce advocate for protecting the public’s health. James continues to fight to get our community the state assistance it deserves and is leading the effort to support our small business recovery.
When COVID-19 first hit, James immediately got to work to make sure the community was fully equipped with accurate information, secured and distributed thousands of PPE to frontline workers, donated plasma after recovering from COVID-19 himself, and to this day, continues to coordinate recovery efforts for those in need.
With the statewide unemployment rate skyrocketing since the onset of COVID-19, James faced this crisis head on and helped over 4,000 constituents with unemployment insurance challenges.
As Chairman of the Senate’s investigations committee, James also led over 40 hours of state oversight hearings on the state’s response to COVID-19, demanding answers on nursing home, hospital, and workplace concerns.