Report to Community Board 3
March 24, 2009
Budget Update - Partial Agreement on Taxes: Negotiations continue on the state budget as the Governor and the legislature move toward next week’s April 1st deadline. The Governor and the legislature agreed to eliminate $1.3 billion in tax increases that had been included in the Governor’s proposed Executive Budget. The proposed taxes were to be levied on previously tax-free goods and services such as clothing under $110, digital downloads, cable and satellite television, manufacturers coupons, haircuts, manicures, concerts, movies, live theater, health clubs, bowling, golf, skiing, and others. Assemblymember Kavanagh had argued that these kinds of regressive taxes would place an unfair burden on working and middle class families in these difficult economic times, and is pleased to report agreement that these taxes are off the table. Kavanagh Stands Up For Public Housing Residents: On March 20th, Assemblymember Kavanagh joined State Senator Daniel Squadron, public housing residents, and tenant advocates on the steps of City Hall to call on the State to fund State-owned NYCHA developments in this year’s budget. The twenty-two public housing developments built by New York State – one of them in his Assembly District – have not received funding from the State for over a decade. The State’s failure to fund these developments accounts for more than $60 million of NYCHA’s overall annual operating deficit. Assemblymember Kavanagh, who has fought for this funding in the previous two budgets, will continue to call on the State to meet its responsibility to NYCHA tenants. Kavanagh Fights for Accountability and Affordable Tickets at Publicly Subsidized Stadium and Arena Projects: On March 6th, Assemblymember Kavanagh participated in the Assembly Corporations and Cities Committee’s second public hearing to discuss the utilizing of public financing for construction of a new Yankee Stadium. The committees heard testimony from New York Yankees President Randy Levine as a follow-up to a January 14th hearing to explore a series of policy and legal issues raised about the use of public financing by the NYC IDA and other government agencies. Kavanagh focused his questions on bill A508, which would limit ticket price increases by sports franchises that have received public subsidies for their facilities and require that a percentage of tickets at these facilities be sold at prices affordable to people with modest means. Bill A508 has widespread bi-partisan support in the Assembly with over 60 co-sponsors, and is currently before the Ways and Means Committee. We expect the bill to be introduced in the State Senate soon. The bill has also received widespread media attention, including coverage on ABC Channel 7 television news, National Public Radio, the Daily News and the New York Post – attesting to the intense public interest in the issue. Assembly Passes Landmark Drug Law Reforms: On March 4th, the Assembly voted to approve legislation that would address the harshest aspects of the Rockefeller Drug Laws by eliminating most mandatory minimum State prison sentences and creating new sentencing options for judges without disrupting those options available under current law. Co-sponsored by Assemblymember Kavanagh, the legislation (A06085) significantly reforms New York’s Rockefeller Drug Laws by restoring judicial discretion and permitting judges to sentence non-violent drug offenders to probation, local jail or a combination of both. The bill also enhances options for substance abuse and drug treatment and rehabilitation. It would also augment reentry initiatives designed to facilitate the reintegration of offenders into society thereby breaking the revolving door of drug abuse and prison. Kavanagh and Colleagues Hold Oversight Hearing on Electricity Pricing in NYS: Assemblymember Kavanagh and other Assembly colleagues held a hearing to examine the state of New York’s electric commodity market under the stewardship of the New York Independent System Operator. The NYISO is a not-for-profit corporation, approved and overseen by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that began operating in 1999 to administer the state's wholesale electricity markets. The hearing also examined the policies and practices of the NYISO related to the market clearing price on the electric commodity cost to consumers. By some estimates, New Yorkers could save up to $2 billion a year if the legislature were to enact reforms of the electricity market. Kavanagh and his Assembly colleagues will continue to push for legislation. Assembly Passes Legislative Package to Benefit Small Businesses: To commemorate Small Business Day, the State Assembly passed a comprehensive eleven-bill legislative package aimed at helping small businesses be competitive, productive and profitable in New York State. A key goal of the Assembly package is the creation of a micro business outreach center to provide firms that employ less than five employees with the knowledge and tools they need to be competitive. Under the bill (A3193), individuals without access to traditional sources of finance could access the centers for information about business plans, loan programs and how to operate a business. The Assembly small business measure also includes an effort to address the rising cost of energy to help small businesses become more energy-efficient. The bill would establish zero and low-interest-loan programs for energy improvement projects which could stimulate growth and create more job opportunities (A3945). Kavanagh Discusses Community Updates In Wald Houses: On March 13th, Assemblymember Kavanagh visited Wald Houses for lunch with TA president Charlotte Miles and other community residents. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss issues affecting the Wald Houses community but it also gave Kavanagh a welcome opportunity to enjoy Wald Houses’ famous fried fish. Assemblymember Kavanagh Visits Our Lady of Sorrows (OLS) Food Pantry: Last Friday, March 20th, Kavanagh visited the OLS Food Pantry to talk about the services they provide and to meet the staff. In these difficult economic times, Assemblymember Kavanagh encourages families and community members in need of food to visit the food pantry of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish located at 101-103 Pitt Street. The food pantry is open on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays between the hours of 1:30pm and 3:00pm. Currently, they serve 35 people per day and offer supplies for each individual once a month. If you have any questions about this or other free services available in our community, please contact Paula Castro in the District Office at 212-979-9696. Baruch College Students Available to Help File Tax Returns: Tax time is once again looming on the horizons and Baruch College students are marshalling to help New York residents. More than 320 Baruch students have been tested and certified by the IRS as tax preparers, ready and able to help you file your federal and New York State tax returns. The service is free and open to the public. Through Wednesday, April 15, 2009, students will be available Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursdays 10am to 8pm and Fridays 12pm to 7pm on the first floor of 151 East 25th Street, home of Baruch’s Library and Technology Building. No appointment is necessary. Tax preparers work on a first come, first served basis. All volunteers are qualified to complete federal forms 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ and New York City and State forms IT 150 and IT 201 as well as all accompanying schedules. Reach the VITA Tax Help Line at (646) 312-4600. Please check the VITA web site at http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/vita for answers about documents to bring with you and other pertinent information. The AIDS Service Center (ASC) NYC Needs Men’s Clothing Donations: Assemblymember Kavanagh recently visited the AID Service Center’s (ACS) Lower East Side Peer Outreach Center, located at 150 First Avenue. The center offers a multitude of programs for people living with HIV and AIDS, including an onsite Meal Program, a Food Pantry and Clothing Bank. During the visit Kavanagh was informed of the center’s need for donate clothes and food. He asks anyone in the community who has gently worn clothing or food to donate to contact Brooke Brailey at (212) 645-0845 ext. 303, or via email at email@example.com.