Small business is the backbone of our economy and in these difficult economic times, we must work together to provide every opportunity to see our businesses flourish. As a new member of the New York State Assembly, I am committed to working with all my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, to offer concrete solutions and provide real results.
This year’s on-time state budget is one that Southern Queens and Rockaway small businesses can be proud of. It allocates over $2 billion for programs to rebuild our state’s crumbling infrastructure and will help get our unemployed working again without adding any new taxes or fees.
I fought to make sure our community’s needs were addressed and successfully brought back the resident rebate on the Cross Bay Bridge toll. Our hardworking families need this money to pay their bills and our local businesses deserve the freedom to conduct business across the bay without the hindrance of a high toll.
More importantly, the toll elimination needs to be permanent for every resident of Queens. It is unfair to ask the residents and businesses of Southern Queens and Rockaway to pay a toll simply for traveling within their own neighborhood. I have already introduced a bill that would eliminate the toll completely and I will work hard to ensure that this measure is brought to all of Queens residents and businesses (A.9000).
As a result of measures I voted for, the 4 percent state sales tax on clothing, footwear and related items has been eliminated as of April 1, for all apparel priced under $110. The qualifying amount was doubled from previous years and, in total, taxpayers will save an estimated $210 million. Our businesses will see a real boost as more shoppers visit their stores and customers from neighboring states travel to take advantage of the extra savings.
In March, I helped pass historic legislation that was the first step to amending the state constitution to allow full casino table games in several locations. This is a great stride toward improving our economy and could mean millions of dollars in revenue for the state and countless new jobs for our neighborhood. Since their opening, Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct Racetrack has been a great asset to our community, hiring 70 percent of their workforce directly from Queens. They have made it a priority to become part of the neighborhood and enhanced table games will provide the tools they need to increase their impact by generating more jobs both inside the casino and for all the businesses in the surrounding area.
As we move into the second half of the legislative session, I will continue working for the families and businesses in Southern Queens and the Rockaways to make sure everyone has the opportunity to thrive and succeed.