Obama says he won’t sit around

Several lawmakers representing Fulton and Montgomery counties had positive reactions to President Obama’s comments during his State of the Union address Tuesday.

U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, a Democrat, said in a prepared statement that the president had sent out a call for cooperation to increase economic opportunity for Americans.

“Both parties in Congress must renew focus on policies that help the private sector create jobs, promote a well-educated work force and revitalize American innovation,” Tonko said in his statement. “Our country is healthiest when we work together to build the economy from the middle out, and we can only do that when each New Yorker – each American – knows that they will be rewarded for a hard day’s work in the same manner as anyone else.”

Tonko was unavailable for comment this morning, but spokesman Sean Magers said Tonko has supported a federal minimum wage increase, which Obama called for in his address.

“[Tonko] thinks that it is a good first step,” Magers said.

Magers said when more money is available to the middle class, it allows for more economic growth.

“[Tonko] believes that it is good for both consumers and small businesses,” Magers said.

Regarding Obama’s call for immigration reform, Magers said Tonko agrees. Magers said the reform could lead to taking $1 trillion off the deficit over the next 20 years through tax revenue.

Magers said Tonko believes the education reforms proposed by Obama could lead to a better work force.

U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, a Republican, said there was much in Obama’s speech that could lead to common ground. He cited the focus on manufacturing jobs.

Gibson said he hopes Washington will focus on the growth of the economy. He said a federal minimum-wage increase could help with that.

Gibson said he believes immigration reform is possible.

As for education reform, Gibson said he agrees with Obama that more money should be available for bringing broadband to schools.

Obama threatened to veto new sanctions that Congress passes during ongoing nuclear talks with Iran.

Gibson said Obama may not be right with that approach. ?Gibson said a division between the White House and Congress on this issue could give Iran an advantage.

New York State Assemblyman Marc Butler, R-Newport, said he would prefer to see a federal minimum-wage increase rather than a state-by-state approach.

“Let me say this, I would much prefer to see action taken on a national level than a state level,” he said.

However, he said minimum-wage increases could lead to unintended consequences.

“It is a double-edged sword,” Butler said.

Butler agreed immigration reform is needed.

“I do think our immigration policies are fractured and unevenly enforced,” Butler said.

However, he said he did not find it fair to those who immigrated legally to have illegal immigrants be given citizenship easily.

Regarding Obama’s education platform, Butler said fears a federal incursion on what has generally been a state issue. He cited issues with national education measures such as Common Core.

“I think we have already seen the effects of what has been done,” Butler said.