The event will showcase programs and services available for homeowners, renters, cooperators and home buyers. Homeowners can get information on weatherization, tax abatement, foreclosure prevention and low- or no-interest loans for home repairs. Renters can speak with experts on tenants’ rights, eviction prevention, complaint enforcement, SCRIE and DRIE programs and learn how to form a tenants’ association. Cooperators can get advice on building management, shareholder-board relations, as well as tax abatement programs. And home buyers will find information regarding credit health, down payment grants and first-time home buyer programs and assistance. Issues for all, such as energy efficiency, burglary and fire prevention, graffiti removal, and dealing with bed bugs will also be addressed.
Participating organizations and co-sponsors include: Brooklyn Housing and Family Services • CAMBA • Council of New York Cooperatives and Condominiums • Erasmus Neighborhood Federation • Fifth Avenue Committee • Flatbush Development Corp. Housing Court Answers • Midwood Development Corp. • Neighborhood Housing Services of East Flatbush • Neighbors Helping Neighbors Ocean Parkway Community Development Corp. • Selfhelp Kensington • South Brooklyn Legal Services • Sustainable Flatbush.
Also participating are: NYC Dept. of Buildings • NYC Dept. of Finance • NYC Housing Authority • NYC Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development • FDNY NYPD • NYS Div. of Housing and Community Renewal • NYS Energy Research & Development Authority • Con Edison • National Grid.
Our co-sponsors also include: Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs • Councilmembers Mathieu Eugene and Brad Lander • Community Boards 6, 7, 12, and 14.
The Governor and the Legislature closed a $10 billion deficit, adopting an on-time budget on March 31. The Legislature made $600 million in restorations to the budget, but there are more than $8 billion in spending reductions and cuts. Governor Cuomo and Senate leaders refused to support an extension of the “millionaire’s tax,” which would have brought in an additional $700 million this year and $2.6 billion next year and would have paid for more meaningful restorations to education, health care, social services, and transportation.
LOSS OF FEDERAL STIMULUS FUNDS
About $6 billion of the State’s $10 billion deficit resulted from the loss of the Federal stimulus funds provided in 2009 to help the State during the recession. The funds run out on June 30, 2011.
GOVERNOR’S CONSTITUTIONAL POWERS
The Governor threatened to use his constitutional powers to force his budget to be approved or face a government shutdown. The State Constitution requires that the Legislature must take action on the budget submitted by the Governor before they are able to pass any budget bills. This enables the Governor to include his entire budget within emergency spending bills after the budget deadline and the Constitution prohibits the Legislature from amending them.
SENIOR CENTERS, SUMMER JOBS FUNDS RESTORED
The Governor had proposed eliminating $25 million in social service funds that the City of New York uses to fund senior citizen centers. The Legislature blocked that cut. The Governor also proposed the elimination of money for summer jobs for youth, and the Legislature blocked that cut as well.
Aid to public schools took serious cuts. A substantial amount of the Federal stimulus funds in the State budget, which are expiring, provided aid to the New York City public schools last year. Without some additional revenue, such as the millionaire’s tax, the Legislature could only make very limited restorations. The Governor also proposed a 33% cut in aid to New York City school construction, which the Legislature blocked. Mayor Bloomberg played an ineffective role, advocating for changes in how to deal with layoffs rather than focusing on the main issue, the need for revenue. He also refused to support the millionaire’s tax.
A two-year education budget was adopted. Although total cuts this year were $1.27 billion, an $800 million increase was provided for next year. This is a positive development.
The Governor proposed a $2.3 billion reduction to the State’s share of the Medicaid program, including an 8% cut to hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, and home care agencies. About half the spending reductions were cuts (including a cap on spending for providers) and the other half were reforms like requiring managed care for long-term care and for the mentally ill. Developmental disability agencies also took big cuts which I view as unfair.
THERE WERE BETTER CHOICES
An extension of the income tax surcharge on the very wealthy could have provided the revenue we needed, both this year and next year, to provide meaningful restorations. The State could also have borrowed a small amount of money to further mitigate the cuts, and the extension of the tax would have provided sufficient revenue for a fully balanced budget next year anyway despite the small borrowing.
It will be a difficult year ahead as we try to serve the community with fewer resources on hand.
I was most honored to accept Speaker Silver’s appointment as chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions in February. I have been a member of this Committee for 26 years, and during that tenure I also served as chair of the Subcommittee on Business Corporation Law and the Telecommunications Task Force. I look forward to the challenges ahead on the issues confronting the committee, including mass transit funding, utilities, and the general laws that apply to the accountability and governance of our public authorities and corporate entities.
F Train Report
MTA, with little notice to the public, closed northbound service at the 15th St. and Ft. Hamilton Pkwy. stations of the F/G lines for track work associated with the Culver Viaduct Rehabilitation project. Along with Borough President Markowitz and Councilmember Lander, I met with the MTA to press for additional bus service for inconvenienced riders. Unfortunately we were unsuccessful in getting the MTA to add additional service, but we did get them to agree to add a local B35 bus stop at the corner of Ocean Pkwy. and Church Ave.
Manhattan-bound service will resume at the 15th St. and Ft. Hamilton Pkwy. stops on or around May 23, 2011. From November 2011 until March 2012, southbound service will be suspended at these stations in order to complete work on this section of the Culver Viaduct project, according to the MTA.
Continuous welded rail is finally being installed to reduce subway vibrations above the F line in Windsor Terrace. Noise and serious vibrations to people’s homes have been a longstanding major concern of Windsor Terrace residents who live above the local and express F tracks. I’m pleased to report that the MTA attended a meeting at my office with concerned neighbors and agreed to install state-of-the-art continuous welded rail to replace the old northbound tracks. This work will take place while local service is suspended at the 15th St. and Ft. Hamilton Pkwy. stations during the Culver Viaduct project. During the November 2011 to March 2012 work period the southbound tracks will undergo similar improvement. The express tracks were similarly renovated two years ago at the request of my office.
Certainly it has been inconvenient for local residents using the F and G trains during this suspension and it would have been helpful if the MTA had expanded bus service or provided shuttles during this period. However, when the Culver Viaduct work is completed this essential infrastructure improvement will benefit the community.
Pedestrian crossing lights were restored at E. 2nd and E. 3rd St. on Caton Ave. and traffic lights were installed at the Cortelyou and Marlborough Rd., as well as at Beverly and Argyle Rd. intersections. These improvements are a welcome safety enhancement for drivers, riders and pedestrians alike.
The Cortelyou Road library will be closed from 4/15 through 6/19 to install a new boiler and HVAC system. The Park Slope branch will continue to be closed this year, while it is being made ADA accessible with a new elevator and access ramp. The Windsor Terrace branch reopened at the end of March with a new circulation desk and two new self-check machines. The new Kensington branch at 4207 18th Ave. will be the first “green” library in the system, when construction is complete in Spring 2012.
Improve your English or volunteer to help others do so: English classes and conversation groups led by Brooklyn Public Library volunteers are available at many local branches, including Kensington, Midwood, Cortelyou and Borough Park libraries. Call 718-230-2406 for more information or to volunteer.