Through the window of Assemblyman Dan Losquadro’s office in Albany is a view of the plaza between the state Legislature and judicial buildings — a sight he said he found inspirational as he begins his career as the new representative for the 1st District.
It hasn’t been the only thing to inspire him. “Being announced on the floor for the first time was a real thrill for me,” Mr. Losquadro said about his first week in office as a state official. “There’s so much to read, new people to meet and I’m looking forward to getting up to speed.”
Mr. Losquadro (R-Shoreham), who defeated incumbent Democrat Marc Alessi Nov. 2, said his first goal for 2011 is tackling the state deficit.
“Everything is tied to our overriding budget problem,” Mr. Losquadro said. “Pensions, school aid and unfunded mandates — they’re all tied back to our budget.”
After Gov. Andrew Cuomo made his first “State of the State” address Jan. 5, Mr. Losquadro said he found his plans for tackling the state’s fiscal problems “very encouraging.”
He said he had met with Mr. Cuomo and Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy after the speech to talk about fixing a state with a $10 billion deficit in its current budget.
Mr. Cuomo plans to set a state spending cap at the rate of inflation while introducing a 2 percent property tax cap.
They “both seem very serious about the plan they put forward,” Mr. Losquadro said. “The governor has put out a very open and conservative agenda and I think we really have an opportunity to effect change.”
Through a collective effort of suburban legislators, Mr. Losquadro said he believed the Assembly has a chance to stop Long Island from being shortchanged by Albany when it comes to school aid.
While he said he didn’t want to see a “mega north shore school district” through consolidation, one cost-saving measure he is working on is combining school district administrative functions.
“Through a shared services agreement, school districts will save a great deal of money,” he said.
A lifelong resident of the Shoreham-Wading River area and a graduate of SUNY/Stony Brook, Mr. Losquadro worked for nearly a decade in the insurance industry before first taking public office as a Suffolk County legislator in 2003. He served as minority leader from 2006 until he left office to serve in Albany.
One project he said he wished he could have seen through to fruition as a county legislator was Rails to Trails, a proposed 11-mile recreational trail on an abandoned railroad track from Port Jefferson to Wading River.
The Long Island Power Authority, which owns the land, struck a deal with the county Legislature in June. Under the agreement, Suffolk County would be responsible for developing, supervising and maintaining the trail. But funding remains elusive.
Proponents of the trail have envisioned it as a popular destination for tourists, who could take the Long Island Rail Road to Port Jefferson and bike along the trail to the Pine Barrens.
As a state representative, Mr. Losquadro said he can keep supporting the proposal by working closely with the Department of Transportation. Meanwhile, proponents are hoping the Federal Highways Administration will approve a $9.5 million grant application.
“I’m not giving up on it,” he said. “I’m going to stay in close contact with the county and whoever the new representative is.”