Assemblyman Abbate Assemblyman
Peter
Abbate

Reports to the People



Historic Budget
Accord Dominates 2003 Legislative Session and
is a
Victory
for
Working Families

Dear Friend,

During budget negotiations, I always focus on a clear set of priorities that benefit the people of our community, city and state. I act on these priorities to ensure that our children, seniors and working families are not devastated with cuts and taxes, but instead get treated fairly.

This year, in the absence of leadership from the Governor and recognizing the seriousness of New Yorkís budget crisis, my colleagues and I in the Assembly joined with the State Senate to put aside partisan differences and did whatís right for the people of our state.

After examining the Governorís budget proposal, that included massive cuts to education and health care, and $6.7 billion in tax and fee hikes - the Legislature moved forward without him to adopt a fairer state budget that helps lead our state forward.

Given the stateís budget situation, some tough decisions had to be made. It is more important than ever for all of us to stay focused on our core values and most critical responsibilities to the people of our state. I will continue to be guided by my commitment to improving the quality of life for the people of our community, city and state.

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Quality Education and Health Care Preserved
Fighting to stop tax hikes and devastating cuts

This year, I along with my colleagues in the Legislature passed a responsible, fair budget that restores $1.9 billion of the governorís $4 billion in devastating cuts and blocked Governor Patakiís property tax hike ó the largest in state history. The Legislatureís agreement will:

  • give our students ó from Pre-K to MBA ó the resources they need;
  • provide vital health services and protect our already fragile health care industry; and
  • pave the way for a renewed competitiveness through successful job creating programs.

Saving our schools and protecting our future

Year after year, the governor tries to slash education funding, and, year after year, the Assembly fights to protect our schools. In fact, prior to this year, the Assembly has successfully restored $2.8 billion of the governorís education cuts.

This year was no different. The governor wanted to cut $1.4 billion from schools. The Assembly and Senate came together to make a better choice, paring the governorís cut by $1.1 billion for the coming school year. As a result, effective education programs will be spared and school districts will get the boost they need to stave off the massive property tax hikes, teacher layoffs, and elimination of programs that many districts would have been forced into under Governor Patakiís proposal.

Because of the restorations, pre-kindergarten and universal full-day kindergarten ó both of which are cited by experts as critical in a studentís development ó will be saved, as will class size reduction initiatives and after-school programs.

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Protecting quality, affordable health care

Under the governorís plan, the stateís health care system faced funding cuts of more than $2 billion ó a body blow to an already reeling industry. In addition to jeopardizing quality care, the governorís proposal could have jeopardized 48,000 jobs in the health care industry ó New Yorkís largest employer.

Again, the Legislature stepped up to block another bad choice from the governor, restoring $782 million in state funds for Medicaid, public health, and Health Care Reform Act programs. These restorations will ensure for many New Yorkers that theyíll continue to receive the kind of quality, affordable care they need when they need it.

Specifically, the Legislatureís bipartisan plan:

  • drove $1.1 billion in Medicaid funds for critical health care programs;
  • protected vital county health organizations, which serve as a front line against emerging diseases like SARS and potential bioterror attacks;
  • kept open the psychiatric and research institutes across the state that the governor wanted to shutter;
  • allowed adult day care, meals for seniors, and Alzheimerís initiatives to keep providing valuable services;
  • reinstated $156,100 in funds to Breast Cancer Support and Education Services that the governor wanted to cut;
  • passed on the $14 monthly cost-of-living adjustment to the disabled and seniors receiving federal Supplemental Security Income, which the governor wanted to deny them;
  • protected seniors from fee increases in the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Program (EPIC);
  • restored $252,000 worth of the governorís funding cuts to Rape Crisis Services;
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  • restored the $27 million the governor wanted to take from the pockets of state retirees and employees for premiums; and

  • Stopped severe cuts in service to local hospitals Maimonides, Lutheran and Victory Memorial.
Improving Safety and Security

The Assembly also fought to make life-saving improvements to local 911 systems. Earlier this year, the Assembly passed legislation to help localities purchase state-of-the-art equipment that would allow emergency dispatch centers to pinpoint emergency calls from wireless phones.

Tragedies like the one we saw earlier this year ó where four teenage boys perished in a sinking boat on Long Island Sound while trying to describe their location to 911 dispatchers ó once again highlighted the need to develop wireless telephone locator systems.

The Senate joined with the Assembly to direct $100 million in funding to implement New Yorkís enhanced E-911 system.

Creating a more competitive workforce through higher education

photo Assemblyman Abbate discusses legislation at committee hearing in Albany.
The governorís budget would have been disastrous for our state colleges and universities, affecting both the students attending them in hopes of building a better future and the local economies that depend on them. Under the Administrationís original plan, SUNY students would have seen their tuition rise $1,400, the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) cut by a third for middle income families, and opportunity programs cut in half. Base aid to community colleges also would have fallen by $345 per student, forcing property tax hikes and tuition increases.

By rejecting the governorís short-sighted budget that would have undermined the educational foundations of New Yorkís emerging high-tech economy, the Legislature chose to fully restore the cuts to TAP, opportunity programs and community college based aid, and rolled back the governorís proposed tuition increase by a third. All in all, nearly $400 million of $703 million in cuts were restored to higher education.

Building a stronger economy

Over the past nine years, New York has suffered because of the governorís failed economic development policies. Even at the height of the nationís economic boom in the Ď90ís, he failed to adequately capitalize on our assets. In fact, had we created jobs in New York at the same rate as the rest of the country during that time, we would have 476,000 more jobs statewide ó as many jobs as there are people in the entire state of Wyoming.

This year is no different, as once again, the governor failed to provide the state with the leadership we need to move our state forward. Even worse, his initial budget proposal would have wiped out the Assemblyís Empire Zone program (three of which are in Brooklyn), which his Administration acknowledged is the most successful economic development program in the history of the state. The governor eventually advanced a $3.5 million cut in the programís operation ó which would have still effectively killed the program. Once again, it fell upon the Legislature to undo the governorís wrong choice, which it did by restoring more than $2.3 million of his cut, protecting this vital program and the jobs it creates.




Assemblyman
Peter Abbate
District Offices
8500 18th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11214 (718)236-1764
6419 11th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11219 (718)232-9565


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