Senator Dean Skelos of Rockville Centre is the State Senate majority leader in Albany. This week he kindly invited me to offer the opening prayer at the inaugural session of the Senate on Wednesday, January 9. It was an historic moment. For the first time there will be two majority leaders because of a coalition between the majority Republicans and six Democrats. In addition for the first time in NY Senate history, a woman was elected the minority leader.

The festive and hopeful atmosphere in the State Senate was shared by all. We then proceeded to the Convention Center for Governor Cuomo’s “State of the State” address. He touched on six major areas that will be his “program” for the coming year. Some of his points, especially on upstate economic development and certain areas of education sounded a note of hope and positive expectation. Others, especially what he termed his “progressive agenda”, were disturbing.

The New York bishops will continue to work with both branches of state government for those issues that truly serve the people and the common good. One of them is a bill that would offer tax credits to persons and corporations for contributions made to all schools, private and public, religiously based or not. Once that bill begins its process through the Senate and especially the Assembly, I will be seeking your support. The passage of such a bill into law would give all schools, and especially our own Catholic schools from pre-K to 12th grade a real boost and a major opportunity for the future.