Budget Update: Assemblymember Kavanagh was in Albany today to receive the Governorís proposed Fiscal 2009-2010 budget. Facing a $15.4 billion deficit, the Governor submitted his proposal over a month before required, in hopes of stimulating budget negotiations. The Governor has also called for the budget to be completed by March 1st, a month before the April 1st deadline, in hopes of saving over $1 billion through early implementation of reforms.
The Governorís budget includes a number of significant cuts and fee and tax increases, which will be discussed further in the weeks ahead but some of the key proposals include:
- A reduction of State aid for public schools by $698 million (3.3%) for a total $20.7 billion. While the Governor remains committed to fulfilling the Stateís $7 billion commitment to settle the CFE lawsuit, he proposes stretching the phase-in period from four years to eight.
- Limiting Medicaid growth to $16 billion - an increase of 3.8 percent.
- An increase in SUNY and CUNY tuitions to $620 and up to $600, respectively. The Governor also proposes a student loan fund that would provide $350 million to some 45,000 students who are residents of New York.
- Cutting New York Cityís entire municipal aid payment.
- Closing of "Underutilized" state facilities including: Four prison camps and several annexes, the Manhattan OASAS addiction treatment center, three OCFS evening reporting centers, six OCFS youth facilities.
- A $4.1 billion package of taxes and fees - a total of 88 new or increased fees Ė including: An 18 percent "obesity tax" on non-diet soda, the end of the sales tax exemption on clothing and shoes up to $110, a new tax on cable and satellite TV services, a 17-cent increase in the cigar tax.
While recognizing the need for budget cuts, Assemblymember Kavanagh will continue to work to minimize the impact of cuts on vital services in areas such as education, housing, and healthcare. Kavanagh will also continue to push for a transparent and inclusive budget process, believing that open government is especially important in times when critical decisions are being made.
Kavanagh Reviews Housing and Environment Budgets: As a member of both the Assembly Housing Committee and the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee, Assemblymember Kavanagh participated in two oversight hearings on December 4th. The Housing Committee hearing explored the ways in which rising costs of affordable housing will affect housing programs that receive state funding. The hearing included testimony from Commissioner Deborah VanAmerongen of the State Division of Housing and Community Renewal, Commissioner Shaun Donovan of the City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, affordable housing advocates, tenants, developers, and landlords. The Environmental Conservation Committee hearing reviewed the State Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) implementation of its 2008-2009 state budget, for the fiscal year that ends March 31, 2009, and explored its impacts on state environmental programs. In addition to extensive testimony from DEC, the Committee heard from several major environmental advocacy organizations throughout the state. The issues raised at the hearing will help to frame the discussion of the budget for environmental programs in the coming year.
Kavanagh Submits Comments About ConEdís Title V Permit Application: On December 5, 2008, Assemblymember Kavanagh submitted written testimony to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation regarding Con Edisonís Title V Permit request for their East River Generating Station, located at 701-827 East 14th Street by the FDR Drive. Kavanagh joined other elected officials and community organizations in expressing concern over the increase in air pollution in the community since the closing of ConEdís Waterside Generating Station. Kavanagh urged DEC to consider setting new emission restrictions on this plant and to require Con Edison to use natural gas to run their generators to the greatest extent possible.
Kavanagh Urges Bracetti Plaza Residents to Participate In First Meeting: Tomorrow, December 17, 2008, Assemblymember Kavanagh, Councilmember Mendez, and GOLES will attend the first general tenantís meeting at Bracetti Plaza in an effort to support the reorganization of their tenant association. For several years, the residents of Bracetti Plaza have not had an officially recognized tenant association to serve as liaison between residents, NYCHA management, and the surrounding community. To solve this problem, Assemblymember Kavanagh asked NYCHA Manhattan Community Operations to start the process of enabling Bracetti Plaza residents to organize a new tenant association. The pre-nomination meeting will be held on January 21, 2009, and elections for tenant association President will be held on February 25th. Assemblymember Kavanagh urges Bracetti residents to participate and to take an active role in the community.