The Empire State Mortgage Bankers Association (ESMBA) hosted Sen. Dean Skelos (R-NY) at the Carle Place Diner on Thursday, May 16 for the association’s monthly breakfast meeting. Sen. Skelos, the author of Megan’s Law, as well as the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage Program (EPIC), was re-elected in November 2012 for his 15th term in the New York State Senate. Serving as Republican Conference Leader, Skelos is currently spearheading a number of initiatives on behalf of New Yorkers.
The topic of the breakfast event was how the economy impacts the mortgage industry on Long Island and what local mortgage professionals can do in a difficult economy to ensure that they remain a viable source for home financing in local markets. ESMBA President Zahra Jafri of Lynx Mortgage Bank LLC started the event off with a bit of background information about the board members who were in attendance, including ESMBA Counsel Neil Garfinkel of Abrams Garfinkel Margolis Bergson LLP, longtime friend of Sen. Skelos.
“We need people to reach out, to get involved, that way we can reach out to people like Sen. Skelos and other important political figures to help us get our points across,” Jafri said.
Garfinkel introduced Sen. Skelos, highlighted the politician’s political accomplishments.
“[Neil] Garfinkel’s father, Eliot, was my history teacher in high school, so I feel like I’m doing extra credit today,” Sen. Skelos said, getting a laugh from the crowd of mortgage professionals. “Right now, you’re reading in the press a lot of bad things that are going on in Albany. In terms of personal and legal transgressions by some of our members, that’s something we’re going to have to deal with, unfortunately. At the same time, there are plenty of positive things that have been happening over the past three years. Since the Governor took office, we’ve been working on on-time budgets. We’ve achieved three. This sends a message to the general public and to businesses that we’re operating on-time and that Albany has been straightened out.”
Sen. Skelos discussed reversing New York state’s taxation and spending issues, and how the state simply cannot continue on the course laid out by the previous state administration.
“We simply cannot continue to tax and spend. The message that we’ve been trying to promote, in partnership with Gov. Cuomo, that we were going to make New York State operate in terms of government and politics. We’ve been functioning well,” Sen. Skelos said. “The focus I maintain with the Governor is that there are many issues out there we get hung up on, and we may think they’re important, but we’re always interested, in terms of polling about jobs, taxes and government spending. Those are always at the top.”
“We’ve made major investments in Hofstra Medical School, which will, in my opinion, be instrumental to growth on Long Island. Same with the Nassau Coliseum, that’s going to be for real and hopefully something will be announced in a few weeks,” Sen. Skelos said. “There will also be development in the Belmont area, to both improve the racing industry, as well as promote growth and beautification in the area. We’re also going to be looking to stimulate growth in those areas.”
At the close of Skelos’ presentation, he took questions from some of the mortgage professionals gathered at the diner. The first question came from Garfinkel: “Many people in our industry are regulated by the Department of Financial Services. What we’re finding is that many other regulators and employee bases are shrinking. We have to pay an assessment fee, and that’s going up, but our services are shrinking. It’s tough for us to conduct business. How do we handle that? Regulators who want to do a good job but are limited by their resources?”
“Number one, we have to make sure the resources are available. Two, when the Department of Financial Services came into play, senate Republicans wanted to make sure there was a split between insurance and banking, which the then-Governor didn’t want to do,” Sen. Skelos said.
After the breakfast, I was fortunate enough to chat with Sen. Skelos about ESMBA and the mortgage industry a bit.
“Events like this are important in the sense that I get feedback from individuals who play a critical role in our real estate life, whether it is homeowners or businesses, and for them to bring their concerns back to me and continue into a legislative session. It’s really a two-way conversation,” Sen. Skelos said.
ESMBA President Jafri added, “I feel the event was extremely successful. It’s nice to have a local Long Island senator come and speak to our group and listen to and learn about our challenges, and potentially help us face the economy and grow our businesses.”
ESMBA Counsel Neil Garfinkel and President Zahra Jafri welcome Sen. Dean Skelos (R-NY)
Sen. Dean Skelos updates attendees on issues that could impact the mortgage industry
Members of the ESMBA Board welcome Sen. Dean Skelos to the association's May Breakfast Meeting