Report to Community Board 3

March 25, 2008

Assembly Fights To Protect School Funding, NYC Revenue Sharing, and New Affordable Housing in Budget Proposal: Assemblymember Kavanagh joined his colleagues in passing the Assembly’s 2008-2009 budget proposal. The Assembly’s formal response to the previously released Executive Budget ensures that New York City receives the full $1.7 billion increase in school funding promised in last year’s resolution of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit, restoring a $337 million cut proposed in the Executive Budget; restores New York City’s Aid and Incentives to Municipalities payment of $328 million, which the Executive Budget would have cut by half; provides additional revenue funding for important transportation projects through the New York Transportation Improvement Program; and ensures that $300 million in capital funding for affordable housing proposed in the Executive Budget is not dependent on the sale of property near the Javits Center. The Assembly proposal, passed March 12th, will be the basis of further discussions with the executive and the Senate, with the goal of reaching an agreement that meets the critical needs of New Yorkers and passing a fair, on-time budget by April 1st.

Kavanagh Meets with NYCHA Tenants in Albany: On Tuesday, March 18th, Assemblymember Kavanagh met with a large contingent of NYCHA tenants from the Lower East Side, organized by Lisa Burris of GOLES and PHROLES, to discuss funding for public housing in this year’s State Budget and other issues of concern to residents. Assemblymember Kavanagh, who has been a forceful advocate in Albany for NYCHA, outlined the details of this year’s Executive and Assembly budget proposals. Assemblymember Kavanagh and his colleagues included budget language that would ensure that a portion of the $300 million affordable housing fund is available for capital improvements in public housing.

Kavanagh Supports St. Brigid Fundraiser: On March 15th, Assemblymember Kavanagh attended a fundraiser in support of the campaign to save St. Brigid Church. At the event supporters celebrated the recent decision by the New York State Court of Appeals to review their case. Assemblymember Kavanagh has been and remains an ardent supporter of the campaign to save St. Brigid. He is hopeful that the Court of Appeals’ decision will lead to an agreement with the archdiocese preserving the 150 year old church.

Kavanagh Rallies for Real Rent Reform: As part of Tenant Lobby Day in Albany, Assemblymember Kavanagh joined tenants, housing advocates, and City Council Speaker Quinn at a rally to voice support for home rule over rent regulation, repeal of the decontrol provisions in current State law, and other measures to protect tenants. Assemblymember Kavanagh addressed the group and later met with a large group of constituents to discuss housing issues. Assemblymember Kavanagh is pushing for a package of housing bills, expected to be voted on by the Assembly soon, including proposals to repeal vacancy and high-income decontrol; A.4069, which would repeal the “Urstadt Law” and remove provisions that prohibit New York City from strengthening rent regulations; A.6849, which would provide tax credit relief for New York City renters; and A.6510, which would change the method for determining major capital improvement rent surcharges, and make the surcharges temporary rather than permanent.

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 has introduced 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 Kavanagh proposes 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 more than 40 Assembly co-sponsors and a majority sponsor in the Senate, Senator Andrew Lanza.

Kavanagh Introduces Animal Fighting Legislation: Assemblymember Kavanagh introduced bill A.10092, which would make it easier to enforce laws against animal fighting events staged for spectators. Currently, to charge a spectator under the Agriculture and Markets Law, authorities must prove that the spectator paid an admission fee or placed a wager. Absent such proof, spectators are not currently subject to any criminal penalty. This legislation seeks to end this by making it a misdemeanor for anyone to attend an animal fight.

Kavanagh Introduces Bill to Disqualify Tax Delinquent Companies from Getting State Contracts: Assemblymember Kavanagh recently re-introduced legislation (A.10241) that would prevent State agencies and public authorities from awarding contracts to bidders that are delinquent in their state taxes. If enacted, this bill would make the contracting process fairer and would result in an increase in tax collections as potential bidders satisfy outstanding tax warrants in order to maintain their eligibility to bid on state contracts. An earlier version of this bill, which currently has 16 co-sponsors, was unanimously passed in both the Assembly and the Senate last year, but vetoed by the Governor due to technical issues. The new bill addresses these issues and provides exceptions for emergency contracts, for providers that are the sole available source of a given item, and for bidders who are in the process of satisfying their tax liabilities in good faith or whose liability is minimal.

Kavanagh Reviews MTA 5-Year Plan: In preparation for consideration of the congestion mitigation plan, the Assembly 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. On February 27, 2008, the MTA submitted a proposal of its Five-Year Capital Plan for 2008-2013 for public review. On March 6, 2008, Assemblymember Kavanagh joined Assemblymembers Brodsky, Farrell, and Wright at a public hearing with MTA Chief Executive Officer Lee Sanders to discuss the specific details of the plan and its funding. The plan is currently significantly underfunded.