Report to Community Board 3
New York State Budget Update: On January 22nd, Governor Spitzer announced his 2008-09 Executive Budget. Some areas Assemblymember Kavanagh will be focusing on include:
New Affordable Housing
In a positive move the Governor’s Executive Budget allocated $400 million to create affordable housing in New York City. Unfortunately a portion of this funding is contingent on the sale of two MTA properties across from the Javits Center, a proposal which is meeting strong local resistance. Assemblymember Kavanagh will work to ensure that the funding for this vital investment in affordable housing is not tied to the controversial property sale.
Restoring Funding to NYCHA
Assemblymember Kavanagh will continue to fight to ensure the State pays its share of NYCHA’s operating costs; an obligation the state has neglected for close to a decade.
Between the years 1958-1974, the State constructed 12,500 public housing units in 15 developments in New York City. Unfortunately, in 1998 and in each budget thereafter, the State failed to include operating expenses desperately needed to maintain this vital and aging housing stock. Largely as a result of these cuts, housing authorities have been forced to make difficult choices to close their growing budget gaps such as raising rents and fees and in some cases selling off properties.
The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) estimates that it costs over $60 million per year to operate the state developments within its portfolio. Each year, NYCHA is forced to divert funds, meant for other developments, that it receives from the Federal government to offset the State’s neglect. As a result, services and improvements are often delayed.
Assemblymember Kavanagh is paying close attention to the education budget discussions to make sure the State keeps it’s commitment to the tenets of the CFE lawsuit.
Kavanagh Distributes State Grant Applications to Local Groups: Each year, as part of the budget process, the Assembly allocates small grants to nonprofit organizations throughout the State. This year, Assemblymember Kavanagh mailed grant applications to over 170 groups who do work within our community. 95 groups returned completed applications. These applications are currently being reviewed and grant recipients will be announced soon after the budget is completed.
Kavanagh Works Towards New Campaign Finance Legislation: Assemblymember Kavanagh has been working with advocates and colleagues to push for a new campaign finance bill. He is hopeful that a bill will soon be introduced that offers substantial public funding for candidates who agree to spending caps.
Kavanagh to Introduce Block the Box Legislation: Assemblymember Kavanagh will be introducing legislation to create a more effective mechanism for preventing vehicles from blocking intersections in New York City, commonly known as “blocking the box.” Presently, blocking the box is classified as a moving violation for which only police officers and a small number of traffic enforcement agents can issue tickets. The bill I propose would classify blocking the box as a parking violation, which would enable all 2,800 of the City’s traffic enforcement agents to issue tickets for this offense. Moreover, because the new tickets would not be moving violations, traffic enforcement agents would issue them without substantially extending the amount of time a vehicle remains in the intersection, simply scanning the windshield registration sticker and dispensing the ticket without having to obtain and record the driver’s license.
“Blocking the box” is a prime cause of gridlock, and it consequently adds significantly to pollution in New York City. In addition to decreasing congestion and pollution, this legislation would increase safety at street crossings for all pedestrians, especially children, seniors, and the mobility impaired. The bill is supported by Mayor Mike Bloomberg and has a majority sponsor in the Senate, Senator Andrew Lanza.
Congestion Pricing Update: The NYC Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission, created by the Legislature in July 2007, has made its final recommendation, with some key alterations to the congestion pricing plan proposed by the Mayor in the spring of 2007. The proposal will now be reviewed and voted on by the New York City Council. If approved by the Council, the plan will proceed to the legislature in Albany for consideration, possible amendments and a vote by each house. In preparation for consideration of the plan, the Assembly has asked the MTA to release a new 5-year capital budget and to specify how revenues from congestion fees and other charges would be spent on mass transit.