Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway) announced details of the 2012-13 final state budget. The $132.6 billion budget closes the state’s $3.5 billion deficit and restores critical funding for education and health care, funds important job-creation and infrastructure programs, while continuing the lowest middle-class tax rate in 58 years, which cut taxes for 99 percent of New Yorkers in December.
“This year’s budget continues the states commitment to fiscal responsibility while creating jobs and strengthening communities across the state. It closes a multi-billion dollar deficit with no new taxes, fees or gimmicks, limits spending growth to two percent or below for the second year in a row. I am pleased that I was able to come to Albany and work with my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, to produce an on time budget that it good for the families of Southern Queens and the Rockaways.”
Restoration of the Residency Rebate for the Cross Bay Bridge
Assemblyman Goldfeder made good on a pledge he made before taking office and was successful in securing the inclusion of the Residency Rebate for the Cross Bay Bridge in the final budget (A. 9055-D). This will require the state to pay the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) for costs associated with reimbursement of E-Z Pass tolls paid by residents of Broad Channel and the Rockaway Peninsula for travel over the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge.
“The return of this important rebate program is a step in the right direction towards the complete elimination of this inherently unfair tax,” Assemblyman Goldfeder said. “This toll has been a burden for the residents and businesses of our community for far too long. The passage of the rebate program in the budget is a tremendous victory for our community, but it is only the first step towards complete elimination of this toll for all of Queens residents. I urge the MTA to act immediately to implement the rebate program as soon as possible.”
EPIC restorations for co-payment assistance
Assemblyman Goldfeder advocated tirelessly to ensure that the state budget restored funding to the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) program. The 2012-13 state budget restores $30.6 million to the program (A.9056-D). The restoration of these funds helps to reinstate co-payment assistance for approximately 300,000 EPIC enrollees – including 27,000 Queens seniors. Currently, seniors enrolled in the EPIC program are expected to pay 25 percent of the cost of a prescription drug for each trip to the pharmacy. Under this legislation, the EPIC program would return to allowing enrollees to pay no more than a $20 co-payment for each prescription drug, making the cost of medication more affordable for our seniors, added Assemblyman Goldfeder.
“With the rising cost of living, many Southern Queens and Rockaway seniors on fixed incomes have a hard enough time putting food on the table, let alone affording the staggering cost of prescription drugs,” Assemblyman Goldfeder said. “Restoring EPIC funding in the state budget ensures that our seniors can afford these life-saving drugs and receive the support they need during this difficult economic time.”
This new program is scheduled to begin January 1, 2013 Under this new plan, seniors would go back to paying between $3 and $20 for each prescription they receive through their federal Medicare Part D benefit, instead of 25 percent of the cost of the drug, noted Goldfeder.
Helping small businesses and working families
For the second consecutive year, New York State will provide consumers and businesses welcome relief at the register. Beginning April 1, clothing, footwear and related items sold for less than $110 each will be exempt from the state’s 4 percent sales tax. The tax-free offer – which I helped pass into law – applies to all relevant items purchased in person, over the Internet, by phone or by mail. The sales tax cut – which will save taxpayers $210 million – will provide much-needed help with clothing and footwear expenses so working families can save more of their hard-earned dollars. For our local businesses, the exemption could not come at a better time. An influx of customers, including shoppers from neighboring states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania that come to our state to enjoy the tax-free break will provide a boost to the local economy.
“While we are taking a step in the right direction with this sales tax exemption, our working families and local businesses need more to be done,” said Assemblyman Goldfeder. I will continue working to ease the financial burden for all Southern Queens and Rockaway families and got our local economy back on track.