Assemblywoman Cook
Vivian E.
Reports to the People
Summer 2006

Dear Neighbors:

I am pleased to report to you highlights of the 2006 Legislative Session which adjourned on June 23rd at the call of the Speaker. The legislative session closed with new laws that will invest in the future, give New York City schools a fairer share, make our streets safer and reform state government. It was a productive legislative session that I hope signals a positive change in direction in the coming months and years.

This newsletter contains information on the New York State budget, which provides a record increase in funding for schools, keeps a college education within reach, and protects health care and services for seniors. I am pleased to report that this year’s budget is great news, a clear victory for New York school children, as it fulfilled the capital funding requirements outlined in the CFE decision. It provides New York City with $1.8 billion for capital construction on top of building aid to modernize our schools. In addition, the Legislature’s plan also included a nearly 7 percent increase in formula-based school aid. New York City schools will receive $501 million more than last year, including a $25 million increase to expand universal pre-K classes, enabling the city to serve an additional 7,500 4-year-olds, as well as more for class size reduction. Other budget highlights include funding to restore hope and create new economic opportunities in many distressed neighborhoods. The Legislature launched an innovative $300 million initiative to clean up blight, demolish or reconstruct residential properties that are beyond repair, and help rehabilitate abandoned and decrepit buildings.

To address the tax burden New York families face, we made tax relief a priority - eliminating the state sales tax on clothing and shoes under $110, creating a maximum $330 child tax credit, ending the marriage penalty tax, and capping the sales tax on gasoline. In addition, the STAR personal income tax credit was increased to $115 for single filers and $230 for joint filers, bringing total STAR savings for New York City residents to $1.1 billion annually.

I am very proud to have secured funding in this year’s budget for groups and organizations in the district. This newsletter provides a list of groups that will receive funding, some of which include: York College, Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, Queens Legal Services, the Queens Educational Opportunity Center, Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, Queens Health Center, NYS Defenders Association, and other vital community organizations. As a member of Queens Delegation I have been able to help secure $6 million for the Queens Borough Public Library system for capital projects. This funding will help the Central Library located in Jamaica, and its 62 branch libraries throughout the borough, making a great library system even better. I am pleased that through my efforts and leadership in the New York State Assembly, the 32nd Assembly District will receive its fair share of vital funding.

In closing, the 2006 Legislative Session set a positive tone in New York, but there is more to be done. Let’s continue working together to keep the 32nd Assembly District strong and united so that greater things can be achieved. As always, I remain available to you. Should you need any assistance, please feel free to contact me at (718) 322-3975.

Vivian E. Cook

Cook Continues Tradition of Delivering Vital Funding to the 32nd Assembly District

For nearly 20 years, Assemblymember Cook has worked tirelessly to make sure the district she represents receives its fair share in state funding to help support important programs that provide needed services to the community. This funding is vital to these organizations; without these special efforts these services may have been jeopardized. The list includes organizations that received funding in the 2006-07 State Budget.

Altamont House
Brooks Senior Center
Civil Legal Services
Civil Legal Services for Domestic Violence Victims
Cultural Collaborative of Jamaica
Emergency Homeless Needs
Evelyn Douglin Center
Family Planning Services
Greater Jamaica Development Corporation
Homeless Advocacy Program
Hunt’s Point Cooperative Market, Inc.
Jamaica Chamber of Commerce
Life Health Center
L.I.F.E. Sports Camp
Methamphetamine Abuse Treatment and Prevention Demonstration Project
Neighborhood Housing Services Jamaica
New York ACORN
New York Junior Tennis League
NYS Defenders Association
Rochdale Village Social Services, Inc.
Parents Information Network, Inc.
Patient’s Rights Hotline and Advocacy Project
Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York
Queens Borough Public Library - Rochdale Branch
Queens District Attorney Drug Crimes Prosecution
Queens Educational Opportunity Center
Queens Health Center
Queens Legal Services Corporation
Queens Village Committee for Mental Health, - J-CAP
Southern Queens Park Association
Urban Renewal Committee of South Jamaica
Queens Titans

Legislative Budget a Victory for New York City Children

Campaign for Fiscal Equity - In a clear victory for New York school children, the Legislative budget fulfills the capital funding requirements outlined in the CFE decision. The Appellate Court’s recent ruling demands we act now to ensure New York City children have access to a sound, basic education, and the legislative budget proposal takes a first step toward complying with that ruling.

The Legislature’s capital construction program, EXpanding our Children’s Education and Learning (EXCEL) provides $1.8 billion for capital construction on top of building aid to modernize our schools. The budget also helped the city stretch school construction money further by increasing the cap for the Transitional Finance Authority by $9.4 billion to help fund the cost of New York City’s current capital plan, and secures building aid payments to the city to support the increase. Furthermore, the plan includes a record $1.362 billion increase in education funding over last year, including a nearly 7 percent increase in formula-based school aid. New York City schools will receive $501 million more than last year - $220 million more than the governor proposed. The budget provides additional support for New York City schools, including:

  • $25 million more for pre-K to help the city serve an additional 7,500 4-year-olds
  • continuing $88.9 million for class size reduction grants for overcrowded schools
  • $13.8 million increase in aid for students with limited English proficiency

The Legislature also restored cuts to several programs, providing increases over the governor’s budget for New York City of:

  • $70 million for special education
  • $10.7 million for Teacher Centers
  • $1.6 million for the Teacher Mentor Intern Program
Enhancing Education
  • $5.7 million to ensure library aid keeps up with local population growth and other rising costs
  • $14 million for capital projects to help local libraries modernize their facilities and invest in new education technology

The Legislative budget proposal makes significant investments in New York’s higher education system, while rejecting the most harmful parts of the governor’s budget.

A major accomplishment of the Legislature’s bipartisan agreement is a $131.33 million increase in operating aid to block the governor’s tuition hikes of $500 for State University of New York students and $300 for City University of New York students. The budget will also create a new TAP program to help part-time students at all SUNY, CUNY, and independent 4-year colleges and universities; increase overall SUNY/CUNY operating aid - allowing SUNY and CUNY to add more faculty and reject the governor’s severe TAP cuts; and rejects his proposal to increase eligibility for full-time TAP from 12 to 15 credits.

Additional Highlights Include:
  • Increasing support for vital higher education programs like EOP, HEOP, SEEK, College Discovery, and Liberty Partnerships by 10 percent;
  • Increasing Bundy Aid to private colleges by $4.2 million;
  • A proposal allowing National Guard members, upon completion of their enlistment, to continue receiving tuition benefits if they were deployed in a combat zone and weren’t able to participate in the tuition benefits while enlisted;
  • A proposal allowing an adjustment to tuition assistance awards for students based on special circumstances;
  • Setting aside $1.8 million for new nursing scholarships and loan forgiveness programs; and
  • Restoring over $2 million for Regents Professional and Health Care Opportunity Scholarships.

The Legislature’s budget also invests $763 million more in funding for the capital improvement needs at SUNY/CUNY Colleges over what the governor proposed. SUNY would receive nearly $465.8 million and CUNY $302 million.


The New York Legislature invests in nursing homes, health care initiatives, and combating Medicaid fraud. Under this plan, New York State will invest an additional $800 million this year in health care programs.

Under the budget agreement between the Assembly, Senate and governor, the state will:

  • increase hospital emergency room reimbursement rates from $95 to $125 beginning January 1, 2007; $140 beginning in 2008; and $150 in 2009;
  • increase nursing home reimbursements;
  • provide $172 million in additional HCRA spending for restorations and new initiatives; and
  • extend the state’s wraparound coverage of Medicaid/Medicare dual-eligible individuals for an additional year, through December 31, 2007.

The Legislature’s budget accepts a funding increase from $15 million to $25 million and reduces the local match requirement for the Expanded In-Home Services for the Elderly Program, which provides in-home, non-medical care for the frail elderly who are not eligible for Medicaid. The agreement also approves $5 million more for Access to Home, which helps low- and moderate-income seniors with critical home repairs so they can stay in their homes.

The Legislature also lends a helping hand to adult homes with a cost of living adjustment on the Supplemental Security Income state supplemental payment; $2.75 million for the Quality Incentive Payment program; $2 million for air conditioning in residents’ rooms; and $810,000 for scattered site apartments.

In addition, the Legislature’s budget adds over $4 million for program’s serving seniors, including:

  • $1 million for transportation operating expenses
  • $1 million for traditional Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCS)
  • $1 million for "neighborhood" NORCS
  • $462,000 for respite services
  • $250,000 for an emergency respite program
  • $250,000 for an economically sustainable transportation demonstration program; and
  • $64,000 for a statewide senior advocacy hotline

Assemblymember Cook -
Never Too Busy for You
photo Assemblymember Cook is seated at her desk in the Assembly Chamber reviewing the calendar of bills before the Assembly. Assemblymember Cook votes on thousands of bills that may be signed into law.
photo Assemblymember Cook met with Rochdale Village members representing AARP to discuss prescription drugs, long-term care, cell phone consumer protection and other issues important to our senior citizens.
photo Assemblymember Cook takes a moment to welcome back to Albany the Honorable Byron Brown, Mayor of Buffalo, New York, and a native of Queens County.
photo Assemblymember Cook is never too busy to address your concerns. While in a meeting, Assemblymember Cook steps outside her office to take a minute to speak to the NYS Council on Health-system Pharmacists to discuss a piece of key legislation.
photo Assemblymember Cook welcomes Judge Lewis and students from August Martin High School in Queens on Law Day. Each year the Queens County Bar Association sponsors a trip to Albany for students who are interested in law to get a glimpse of the Legislative Process.

A Glimpse of Assemblymember Cook’s Legislative Schedule in Albany

Tuesday -
May 16, 2006

8:30 a.m.
Legislative Breakfast/Briefing - Host
Transport Workers Union

8:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
Legislative Breakfast/Briefing - Host: NYS
Council of Health-system Pharmacists
Place: The Albany Room

9:45 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
Steering Committee Meeting
Place: 932 LOB

10:00 a.m.
NYS Black and Puerto Rican Legislative Caucus Meeting
Room 423 LOB

11:00 a.m.
Codes Committee Meeting
630 LOB

11:45 a.m.
Meeting with Rochdale Village AARP representatives
/ to discuss Legislative agenda

12:30 p.m.
Meeting with Council of Health-system Pharmacists
Re: A.5891-B

1:30 p.m.
Corporations Committee
Meeting Place: 424 LOB

2:30 p.m.
Ways and Means Committee Meeting Place:
342 Capitol

3:00 p.m.
SESSION Conference
Immediately following Session


Assemblymember Cook Announces New Law Expanding the Sex Offender Registry Information on Level 2 Offenders to be Available Online

Assemblymember Cook expressed relief that the Governor signed into law the Sex Offender Registry Information on Level 2 Offenders to be available online, Chapter 106 of the Laws of 2006. This bill passed the Assembly in January as part of a legislative package enhancing Megan’s Law. The bill adds Level 2, moderate-risk sex offenders to the state’s online sex offender registry and authorizes local police authorities to provide information concerning Level 1 offenders to vulnerable populations.

"It’s important that information regarding sex offenders who pose a moderate risk of re-offending be made available online so that sexual predators do not slip through the cracks in our society. This measure allows groups representing our most vulnerable populations access to information on even low-risk, Level 1 sex offenders so that more children can be protected under the law," stated Assemblymember Cook.

As more people turn to the Internet for information, it is appropriate to include the information on Level 2 offenders online. Because not everyone has access to a computer, the bill continues the requirement that the Department of Criminal Justice Services maintain computer-accessible information right at local police agencies.

"I would encourage everyone to take advantage of this information as it is designed to better protect you and your family," stated Assemblymember Cook.


Assemblymember Cook Welcomes Initiative to Revitalize Distressed Neighborhoods
"Revitalizing one building can go a long way toward renewing a block, and renewing one block can go a long way toward revitalizing a neighborhood."
Assemblymember Cook

The Legislature has agreed to a sweeping $300 million initiative to clean up blight, revitalize aging neighborhoods, and restore hope in New York’s distressed communities. Assemblymember Cook said the Restore New York’s Communities plan would help our neighborhoods get back on track.

"We have to look beyond the boarded-up windows and burned-out buildings to see the real potential of our distressed communities," Assemblymember Cook said. "Take a look at the skilled craftsmanship of our historic buildings, the proximity to our great rivers and coasts, the unique blend of specialty stores and restaurants, and it’s clear that many of our older cities, towns and villages have much to offer. It’s time we carefully and wisely eliminate the negatives in our communities, and invest in their positives."

Unfortunately, Assemblymember Cook noted there are roughly 387,000 vacant non-seasonal dwellings in New York, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which, along with countless buildings in various states of disrepair, drive down property values, erode the tax base, hinder commercial development and provide cover for criminal activity in the neighborhoods where they are located.

Communities would be required to assess and list vacant, deteriorated and abandoned properties. The list would be submitted to the Empire State Development Corporation for approval of grants. The first phase of the initiative would provide grants to of up to $20,000 to demolish or reconstruct decrepit residential properties. The second phase would provide grants of up to $100,000 to rehabilitate and reconstruct residential structures. Municipalities will be required to provide a 10 percent match, which can be met through either financial or in-kind contributions, including other local, state or federal grants.

Assemblymember Cook noted that priority for funding will be given to properties included in Brownfield Opportunity Areas (BOAs), Empire Zones, other state and federal redevelopment, remediation or planning programs, and economically distressed communities. The program will have $50 million available this fiscal year, $100 million next year, and $150 million in 2008-09.

"Revitalizing one building can go a long way toward renewing a block, and renewing one block can go a long way toward revitalizing a neighborhood," Assemblymember Cook said. "This initiative will help our struggling cities, towns and villages tackle one parcel at time, which, in turn, will enhance our communities’ beauty and character, help them compete for private investment, and improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods."

Assemblymember Cook has an open door policy. If you are in need of special assistance or would like to express a particular concern, please feel free to stop by or call her office.
ALBANY OFFICE: LOB - Room 331 • Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-4203
DISTRICT OFFICE: 142-15 Rockaway Boulevard • Jamaica, NY 11436
(718) 322-3975