Assemblywoman
Earlene
Hooper
message to
the people
SPRING 2004



Message to the People……

We have experienced one of the coldest winters in our memory… not confined to the elements but also with what we are confronted in our struggle to survive: higher taxes, rising gasoline prices, fewer resources, world turmoil, and challenged security. With all of the above, we, for twenty years consecutively, have not passed a state budget on time.

We are facing this late budget challenge by legislation that addresses the issue by extending the budget deadline from April 1st to May 1st (by April 15th we have a more accurate picture of our State resources).

We are also looking at the possibility of a carry-over budget when agreements fail regarding a new budget.

This will assist school districts, community based programs, hospitals and other state-funded entities to better plan their budgets.

The Assembly commitment is that you, the taxpayers, are entitled to a budget that is fair, balanced and addresses the issues that affect the quality of your lives.

Our challenge continues to be that part of the legislature which is the conscience of our government.




What is CFE
(Campaign for Fiscal Equity)

In 1993, I was part of a lawsuit brought against New York State’s funding of education, especially in low-wealth districts. Included in the lawsuit was inadequate funding for the New York City School system.

The lawsuit, Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE), wound its way to New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. The court found for New York City that the State has to implement measures to address the New York City School formula.

The basis of the court’s decision was that the "city" schools were over-crowded.

Unfortunately, other districts in the original lawsuit were excluded from the court’s decision. This resulted in the districts of low-wealth in Long Island being dropped from the suit. Therefore, as per the court’s decision, the legislature must implement measures for New York City by July 30, 2004.

This decision, ultimately, omits the needs in the 18th AD school districts. Thus, we, in the Assembly, are refusing to implement the measure and exclude the school districts (Hempstead/Roosevelt/Freeport) who also need a fairer formula.

This is the major stalemate regarding this year’s state budget delay.

Until a fair agreement is accepted that addresses the unfair school aid formula, we shall "hold-the-line" for all students.




Roosevelt Receives
$3.6 Million Additional Funds

The Roosevelt S.D. has been allocated an additional $3.6 million. This allocation is in maintaining the commitment of the Assemblywoman and the Speaker to provide an additional two per cent (2%) of eligible funding for the district in the 2002 Roosevelt legislation (bill# A10526).

Superintendent Horace Williams worked closely with the Assembly to assure that the students of Roosevelt would receive the maximum of the Assembly’s promise.

This allocation includes $600,000.00 for the Sole purpose of instructional programs:

  1. Move-It-Math - $380,000.00
  2. Success For All (SFA) - $120,000.00
  3. Consistency Management Cooperative Discipline (CMCD) - Teacher management programs for student discipline for grades Pre-K through 8th grade - $100,000.00
  4. $500,000 to reinstate the five social workers

Also, $2.5 million for remediation of the land for the building/renovation of the middle school. Total - $3.6 million.

With the passing of the Roosevelt School budget, it is apparent that the citizens of Roosevelt are sincere in the business of educating their students.




$75,000 to Smith Street (Lakeview)

The home-owners on Smith Street (Lakeview) were swimming/wading in a bureaucratic dilemma: which level of government is responsible for the maintenance of their street – County or Town?

Research revealed neither. When the homes were built, it appears that the developer, inadvertently, failed to register the new development with either. Thus, the road was never paved, leaving a path in fair weather and a virtual pool of water, debris and crevices to navigate in inclement weather.

Since neither the County nor the Town is responsible for the street it had fallen into a state of total dis-repair. Homeowners and visitors to the street found it inaccessible.

When this was brought to my attention, I explored the cost to completely pave the street to a state worthy of homeowners/taxpayers. Total cost for the complete paving and storm sewage of Smith Street is $75,000.00.

I have allocated (and delivered) the full amount to Nassau County who has pledged to use the funds to pave Smith Street.

I am now requesting, on behalf of the Smith Street residents, that this issue be resolved expeditiously so that on-going maintenance may not be compromised.




Hempstead School District: State Audit/OSHA

The Hempstead S.D. is in need of close attention. Prospect Elementary school was closed September 2003. Rhodes school is scheduled for closing June 2004. (This is a formula for serious "over-crowding." See CFE re: "over-crowding").

Numerous reports proliferate regarding fiscal concerns, questionable student lunches and environmental issues such as asbestos and mold.

At my request, the New York State Comptroller, Alan Hevesi, is conducting a fiscal audit of the district. This request is for a thorough, objective review that covers the entire district for the past three (3) years.

According to the Comptroller’s office, which has been in the district since March 2004, upon completion, a full report will be presented to the legislature and shall be shared with the district and all interested persons.

A healthy and safe environment is important to any/all persons who enter/visit the buildings in the Hempstead S.D. The Director of Enforcement Programs, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Washington, D.C., has been requested to conduct a thorough investigation of every facility in the Hempstead S. D. for potential environmental hazardous conditions.

It is the right of every individual – administrators, staff, teachers, students, visitors – to be assured they are not being subjected to substances (asbestos) that could be life - threatening twenty (20) years later.




Governor’s Attempt to Raid Pension Thwarted

Governor Pataki’s attempt to raid the pension fund is illegal, unconstitutional and could weaken the fund.

There is no doubt that local governments need relief from rising pension costs that get passed on to property owners.

Comptroller Hevesi, with support from the Assembly, has a plan to save local governments $1.15 billion without weakening the fund. By moving the payment date for pension contributions and extending the re-payment schedule for bonded costs, the comptroller’s plan will provide a one-time benefit of $980 million and help free cash for local governments.

To you, the many retirees who have called and written to me, please be assured, I shall do all within my power to prevent balancing the budget on your backs.




Freeport Community Concert Series Receives Increase

The Freeport Community Concert Series has been granted an increase to $12,000.

Under the leadership of Belle Sylvester of Freeport, the series continues to present classical music, ballet and international artists which makes this the premiere cultural experience in the 18th A.D.




Worker’s Compensation and Unemployment Benefits are Important

The Worker’s Compensation bill becomes effective December 2004. This bill will increase the maximum benefits payable in several $75 installments until it reaches a level equal to 2/3 of the average weekly wage in December 2006.

Some of the improvements in the bill include:

  • Permitting a union to select a substitute carrier from the one selected by the employer;
  • Prompt payment of medical bills;
  • Permits the Board to promulgate a fee schedule for pharmaceuticals;
  • Permits claimants to receive wage benefits electronically.

Many measures in this bill will reduce premiums which is very important to small businesses. Overall, worker’s compensation is a benefit to the employee and the new bill assists the employer.

Nearly 160,000 unemployed New Yorkers have exhausted their Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation (TEUC).

We have urged Congress and President Bush to extend these benefits further.

East Meadow Library Awarded State Grant
The East Meadow Public Library has been awarded a grant of $5,000.00.

Families depend on jobs and paychecks to survive. By extending this unemployment assistance, we are sending a message to hard – working New Yorkers that "you are not on your own."

We strongly urge Congress and the President to do what is right and do not leave the most vulnerable to fend for themselves.




Minimum Wage to $7.10 an Hour

Our state’s antiquated minimum wage of $5.15 an hour is an insult to workers. At this rate, a full-time worker earns $10,712.00 per year or $4,098 less than the official level of poverty. A higher minimum wage is absolutely necessary in this economy.

The $7.10 an hour legislation (A.9710) increases the state minimum wage to $6.00 per hour effective October 1, 2004, $6.75 per hour by July 1, 2005 and $7.10 on January 1, 2006.

Food service workers receiving tips have a minimum wage of $3.30 per hour. On October 1, 2004, that would rise to $3.90 per hour, $4.40 per hour on July 5, 2005 and on January 1, 2006 to $4.65 per hour.

The bill passed the Assembly March 1, 2004. Encourage your State Senator to increase minimum wage for hourly workers.




Don’t Forget to Register "Do – Not – Call"

The "Do Not Call Registry" has been in effect since 2001. If you want to be on the "Do Not Call" list, you must register.

The Registry is published quarterly: January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1.

Once a number appears on the Registry, telemarketers have a 30-day "grace period" to remove your number from their list.

Exceptions include:

  • charitable organizations
  • religious corporations
  • political parties/committees
  • companies with which you have a prior business relationship
  • telemarketers who wish to arrange a face-to-face meeting before concluding a transaction.

For assistance regarding unwanted calls, call the consumer Helpline at 1-800-697-1220 or Internet www.consumer.state.ny.us.




Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)

The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) means a warmer, safer winter for thousands of New Yorkers. This past frigid winter made the HEAP program even more important.

When we were in the throes of this last winter season, we passed a resolution that urged the federal government to release more funds for HEAP.

The HEAP grant provides from $40.00 to $400.00 to eligible New York seniors, working families and families with disabilities for necessary heating fuel. It also provides assistance to eligible renters and emergency assistance to homeowners.

As we experience the summer season, the cold harsh weather seems far in the past or even farther in the future. However, when the season changes and you or someone you know needs assistance with heating, call 1-800-342-3009 or visit www.otda.state.ny.us and download an application.




Freeport Student Wins MLK Award
Camile Grant, an 8th grade student at Baldwin Middle School, received the New York State 2004 MLK award. Camile is the daughter of Dr. Sonia Baker and Dr. Terry Grant. Her brother, Taylor Grant attends Brookside school in Baldwin.



Around The District

Assemblywoman Hooper (center) met with the senior residents at 155 Greenwich Street, Hempstead. Joining the Assemblywoman are L to R: Hilda Williams, Gloria Strickland, Dolores Watson, President and Evelyn Burgo.

Susan Kern, Director Left and David Sweet, Trustee Right of the Uniondale Public Library gather at the library’s "Word Extravaganza" with Hempstead Town representative and Assemblywoman Earlene Hooper. Kevin O’Mallon, President, Smith Street Civic Association (Lakeview) and Smith Street resident, receive $75,000 check from Assemblywoman Hooper.

Assemblywoman enjoys a moment with students at the Birch Elementary School, Merrick before she joins their class to read to them. Students of the Roosevelt School District met with the Assemblywoman to discuss their hopes and dreams for the future.


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