Harris Wofford Honored at State Capitol

March 5, 2007

From left to right are Assemblymembers Chuck Lavine and Steve Englebright (D-East Setauket), former United States Senator Harris Wofford, Assemblymembers Jack McEneny (D-Albany) and Pete Grannis (D-Manhattan) in the Assembly Chamber.

Former United States Senator , President of the State University College at Old Westbury Harris, as well as advisor to President Kennedy and Founder of the Peace Corps, Wofford was in Albany on February 27 to discuss legislation designed to keep senior citizens engaged in society by working longer, volunteering or attending college.

“At age 80,” noted Assemblymember Lavine, “Senator Wofford deserves our gratitude for fighting for the rights of our seniors. His contribution, though, should come as no surprise given his remarkable record of devotion to our nation.”

Wofford was in Albany to push legislation to encourage older Americans to stay in their communities and stay involved. He spoke in favor of a series of measures introduced in New York’s legislature that included allowing people over age 60 to take college classes for free and giving seniors a small tax credit in exchange for performing volunteer work of 75 hours a year.

“New York is the first state to have a package like this,” Wofford said. The package of bills has already won the bi-partisan support of the Assembly and Senate Committees on the Aging. The measures include:

  • Offering seniors a $750 property tax exemption for volunteering 75 hour per year;
  • Creation of a program to encourage job-training providers to tailor more programs for senior citizens and help re-train seniors;
  • Establishing panels to identify laws that currently limit the elderly from working beyond retirement and one to create a volunteer “intergenerational “ mentoring program; and
  • Encouraging and perhaps helping to fund colleges to create “learning centers” designed for senior citizens.

“With nearly one in five Americans projected to be senior citizens by 2015,” stated Assemblymember Lavine. “Senator Wofford’s drive and dedication are really appreciated. I think there is every chance that we will see all these bills pass before the legislative session ends in June.”