The beginning of 2009 has brought about new challenges to the state of New York. Our nation, state, and community have faced financial obstacles this year, but I remain focused, representing and attending to the needs of the people of our district.
In this newsletter, I have provided information about the 2009 New York State budget as well as the latest news about the impact of the state government on community issues. Important issues facing Queens communities include improving our schools, assisting our seniors, maintaining public housing, economic development, mass transit, and information related to helping the environment.
During these times, I remain aware of the need to support those who need it most.
As always, it was wonderful to meet with people from our district who took time away from their busy lives to come to Albany to share their concerns. I look forward to hearing from you, and thank you for the opportunity to represent you in the New York State Assembly.
The 2009-2010 state budget continues the Assembly’s commitment to providing a quality education for New York State’s children despite tough economic times. The budget stabilizes aid to schools and reduces the burden on taxpayers by restoring $1.1 billion to school districts.
We continued our commitment to universal pre-kindergarten by maintaining funding at $376 million. The budget also restores $30 million in funding for non-public schools and $10.6 million in funding for libraries.
The budget provides for vital funding to protect the state’s most vulnerable patients and to ensure working families have access to quality health care by restoring $1.3 billion to health care. In addition, the 2009-2010 budget begins permanent health care reimbursement reforms and investments that will lead to $1.6 billion in savings this year and billions more in future years.
The budget restores $49.9 million to the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) program, which is designed to lower prescription drug costs for seniors with fixed incomes. It also restores $2.8 million to the Medicaid program to restore coverage for drugs denied by Medicare Part D. This “wrap around” coverage is essential in ensuring that EPIC beneficiaries do not leave the pharmacy without their needed drugs.
Much funding is needed to fight foreclosures and create more affordable housing. Additional provisions commit $25 million for foreclosure-prevention services to assist New Yorkers victimized by aggressive and deceptive lending practices. The final budget rejects the executive’s proposed cuts to the Neighborhood Preservation and Rural Preservation programs, which provide support to citizen-led, not-for-profit housing and community-based organizations that create and preserve affordable housing opportunities in urban, suburban and rural areas throughout the state.
The final budget accepts the executive’s appropriation of $170 million to help retire New York City’s debt by paying for the prior refinancing of the Municipal Assistance Corporation (MAC) bonds. These funds are paid through the Local Governments Assistance Corporation.
This session, many groups from the district have made the trip up to Albany to come share their concerns on the budget, legislation, and other issues that they face.
So far this season, I have helped pass the following bills:
A.1245A: This bill would require New York City to establish an emergency alert notification system at each of its public schools using a combination of text messages, emails and phone calls in order to provide parents and staff who chose to receive the notification and instructions in emergency situations that occur in the public school buildings. This would be voluntary.
A.1594: Would establish requirements for integrated pest management plans for hospitals and requirements for notifications of hospital occupants about pesticide applications.
A.5434: The purpose of this bill is to require New York City school health services to provide notification to the school community upon discovery of bed bugs.
A. 1245: This legislation would help to extend and improve the law to help minority and women owned business enterprises continue to develop as they have done over the last fifteen years when this law was put in place.
In late March I sent a letter to Landmark Preservation Commission Chairman Robert Tierney in support of making Ridgewood Theater a landmark. “For generations this movie theater has been a magnet that brought people together and fosters community growth and pride. I support making Ridgewood Theatre a landmark because its structural presence is part of the history of this city,” said Nolan.
At the end of March we held a town hall style state fair at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Covenant in Ridgewood. City and state agencies were on hand to give out information and answer questions about services available to community members. Representatives from Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s office and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli were present. Staff members from the Queens Child Care Facilitated Enrollment Project were also available to help residents of Ridgewood with any questions or concerns that they may have had about child care enrollment.
I have received numerous complaints about the changes to the meals-on-wheels delivery program since the visiting nurses service started to deliver the meals. There have been complaints on the type of food, delivery times, and lack of diet specific meals. I have sent a letter and met with Department for the Aging Commissioner Lilliam Barrios-Paoli while she visited Albany, and expressed the dissatisfaction in the meals and handling of the meals that has been expressed to me.
During the 2002 and 2003 Legislative sessions, the Legislature approved the most comprehensive governance changes to the New York City School District. The mayor was provided control of the management of the City’s schools through the ability to appoint the Chancellor of the City District and a majority of the members of the City Board of Education. This translates into power affecting city-wide education policies including standards, curriculum requirements and mandatory educational objectives; the development of a master facilities plan; administrative functions; public employer responsibilities and management over budgetary process. As the law is set to sunset on June 30th of this year, the committee is interested in hearing about the impact of mayoral control on the City’s school system and how modifications to the law can address concerns and help to improve the current structure. Hearings were held in all five boroughs.
The committee heard from over 250 witnesses and had over 45 hours of testimony. We heard from Department of Education Chancellor Joel Klein, Public Advocate Betsey Gotbaum, Comptroller Billy Thompson, Congressman Anthony Wiener, City Council Members, union representatives, education advocates, teachers, parents, and students. For those of you who were unable to attend the hearings, transcripts of the hearings can be found on my web page.
Please share your views with me about this important issue that will be considered during the current legislative session in Albany.
The mayor has been provided control of the management of the City’s schools through the ability to appoint the Chancellor of the City District and a majority of the members of the City Board of Education. This translates into power affecting city-wide education policies; the development of a master facilities plan and five-year education facilities capital plan; administrative functions; public employer; the development of a procurement policy for public schools; and management over budgetary process and school-based budgeting. As the law is set to sunset on June 30th of this year, I am interested in hearing from you about the impact of mayoral control on the City’s school system and how modifications to the law can address concerns and help to improve the current structure.
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