Legislative Update From
Assemblyman Michael Cusick
Michael J. Cusick

Message from Assemblyman Michael J. Cusick
1911 Richmond Avenue • Staten Island, NY 10314 • (718) 370-1384

Dear Friend:

The state faced upheaval this year when Governor Spitzer’s administration ended abruptly because of scandal, forcing him to resign in disgrace. But we continued the serious business of the state and I thank our new governor, David Paterson, for a smooth transition that led us through successful budget discussions. In a spirit of cooperation we achieved significant goals that benefit Staten Island families.

Our state budget increased aid to New York City schools and kept the state’s commitment to honor the CFE decision and provide New York City students with an opportunity for a “sound basic education.”

We continued tax relief for homeowners and increased tax relief for seniors, kept kids safe from dangerous sex predators and addressed transportation concerns.

My newsletter highlights our accomplishments for the 2008 legislative session. I will continue to fight to make life better for Staten Island families and l look forward to working with Governor Paterson to address the important issues Staten Island families face.

I hope you find this information useful and informative and if I can help you in any way, please let me know.

Michael J. Cusick
Member of Assembly


Keeping the commitment to our schools

Assemblyman Cusick kept his promise to Staten Island’s children by backing a budget that follows through on the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, delivering a $644 million increase for New York City schools, adding over $1 billion in the last two years.

This year’s increase will ensure our schools have the resources they need to provide our children with the best education possible.

Providing additional funding to teach children and keep them safe

Assemblyman Cusick supported vital initiatives that:

  • Reduce class sizes and expand universal pre-K. The final budget allocates $450 million for the implementation of universal pre-K, an increase of $96 million over 2007-2008. The increase expands the number of 4-year-old children attending pre-K from 93,000 to 121,000, bringing New York even closer to universal pre-K

  • Provide $1.6 million for school personnel background checks

  • Ensure independent and religious schools 100 percent reimbursement for costs to comply with state requirements (A.11075-B)

“Children are our future. Providing a quality education will help them succeed in today’s competitive world.”

– Assemblyman Michael Cusick

Health care
photo Assemblyman Cusick with staff and friends at the 2007 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk
Expanding care to
more New Yorkers

Assemblyman Cusick supported a budget that continues to provide reliable health care, a necessity for working families. Assemblyman Cusick worked to:

  • Restore significant cuts to medical facilities so that families and seniors continue to get quality affordable health care.

  • Ensure children and seniors have access to health care by:

    • expanding health insurance coverage to the uninsured, especially children, and rejecting an increase in Child Health Plus premiums; and

    • eliminating roadblocks in filling prescriptions for seniors enrolled in the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) program by requiring EPIC, not enrollees, to appeal prescription denials under Medicare Part D.

  • Secure $5 million in state assistance for Richmond University Medical Center.

Fighting to get Staten Island its
fair share of health care funding from NYC

Staten Island’s population numbers nearly 500,000 people, which represents 6 percent of New York City’s population, and it is expected to grow. Unlike the city’s four other boroughs, Staten Island has no public hospital to supplement medical care. Residents depend solely upon its two private hospitals, Richmond University Medical Center and Staten Island University Hospital. Both will likely have to expand services to meet increasing demands for care.

To help ensure needed support for the future, Assemblyman Cusick authored legislation mandating that New York City’s Health and Hospital Corporation, which oversees the city’s public hospital system, earmark 10 percent of its budget for acute care and emergency room facilities for Staten Island (A.6717).

This minimum call for funding would finally include Staten Island under the HHC public funding umbrella by requiring New York City to accept its responsibility established more than 35 years ago under the HHC law and provide care and treatment to the ill on Staten Island.

Total Fitness Challenge: Keeping our
children in shape – mentally and physically

photo Assemblyman Cusick kicking off the 2008 Total Fitness Challenge with students from P.S. 54

Assemblyman Cusick launched his first summer Total Fitness Challenge for students from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade to prepare for the upcoming school year.

New York has a dismal record of keeping kids physically fit. According to 2005 statistics compiled by the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System – which is part of the Centers for Disease Control – 37 percent of New York State’s children self-reported that they did not do vigorous exercise in three or more days out of seven and 78 percent self-reported they did not do moderate exercise in five or more days out of seven. Almost 85 percent of New York State youth self-reported they did not have daily physical education. Studies also show preschool and childhood obesity on the rise.

To help reverse this trend, Assemblyman Cusick has a brochure listing games and sports to play as well as suggested books and stories to read before the school year begins. Reading together for just 15 minutes a day during the summer and getting outside to garden or hit a few balls will help keep you in shape. Mark down what you do on the brochure’s calendar and return it to Assemblyman Cusick for a certificate.

For a copy of the brochure, contact Assemblyman Cusick’s district office at (718) 370-1384.

“Young children should not use summer vacation as an excuse to sit on the couch and watch television. I want to encourage kids to get out there and do something. Playing a sport or reading a book makes everyone just a little sharper.”

– Assemblyman Michael Cusick

Legislative Accomplishments

During the busy legislative year, Cusick acted on measures to improve life for all Staten Island residents. He’ll continue to work to represent your best interests.

photo Assemblyman Cusick gives certificates to 2007 Summer Reading Challenge participants at P.S. 58
Protecting kids
from sex offenders

Assemblyman Cusick sponsored two bills to keep sexual predators away from children:

  • Ch. 67 of 2008 – e-STOP to monitor Internet use – the Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act will help prevent sex crimes by prohibiting inappropriate use of the Internet by sex offenders. Under the law:

    • all sex offenders who are required to register under Megan’s Law must register with the Division of Criminal Justice Services all Internet accounts and provide all e-mail addresses and designations used for the purposes of chatting, instant messaging, social networking or other similar Internet communications;

    • registered sex offenders must notify DCJS within 10 days if that data changes, or face the current penalties under Megan’s law for failing to register – a class E felony for a first offense and a class D felony for subsequent offenses; and

    • sex offenders’ Internet information will be made available to social networking Web sites who are authorized to prescreen or remove offenders and advise law enforcement if there is a potential violation of law or a threat to public safety.

“Millions of young people socialize on Web sites like MySpace and Facebook, providing sexual predators unprecedented access to unsuspecting users. The e-STOP law will help to head off these predatory encounters before they happen.”

– Assemblyman Michael Cusick

  • Ch. 296 of 2008 – Penalties for teachers guilty of sex crimes – Under this measure, any teacher – including teaching assistants, school counselors, social workers and psychologists, school administrators, supervisors or superintendents of schools – guilty of committing a registrable sex offense will have his/her teaching certificate or license revoked. Waiting for governor’s signature.

Providing for veterans and their families

Cusick authored two bills that assist veterans and their families.

  • A.2385 – Protects the privacy of family and friends mourning the loss of a loved one by making it a misdemeanor to disrupt the funeral, burial or memorial service. Cusick introduced the bill at the request of a soldier from Staten Island who served in Iraq. Passed Assembly and Senate. Waiting for governor’s signature.

  • A.2603 – Includes school taxes in the real property tax exemptions offered to veterans. Passed Assembly.

Addressing the cost of fuel

Assemblyman Cusick supported an energy package that passed the Assembly to protect consumers from rising prices and make “Big Oil” pay its fair share:

  • A.11590 – Institutes a recapture and windfall-profit tax provision on “Big Oil” companies with a prohibition on passing the tax on to consumers.

  • A.11588 – Ensures gasoline pumps dispense the accurate amount of fuel that a consumer is charged by retailers, ending the practice known as “pump jump.”

  • A.9073-B – Allows gasoline retailers and distributors to purchase and sell unbranded motor fuel, giving consumers the option to purchase less expensive fuel. Waiting for governor’s signature.

Ensuring tax relief for homeowners
  • Cusick voted to preserve the Middle Class STAR property tax rebate program.

  • He fought to increase the size of rebate checks seniors receive through the Enhanced STAR benefit by 40 percent.

  • He also fought to ensure the budget included $1.1 billion in relief for New York City residents paying personal income tax.

Assemblyman Cusick talks with a constituent at the Todt Hill Senior Center

Protecting seniors

Cusick sponsored legislation to increase penalties for assaulting a senior citizen:

  • Ch. 68 of 2008 – Helps to reduce predatory attacks by those who target the elderly by increasing the penalty for an assault on a senior to a class D violent felony.

  • Ch. 291 of 2008 – Increases the penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony if more than one vulnerable elderly person is victimized by a scam artist. Waiting for governor’s signature.

Easing traffic on Staten Island Expressway

Cusick introduced legislation to establish a demonstration project using cameras on high- occupancy vehicle and bus lanes to ensure these lanes are used properly (A.11333).

Assemblyman Cusick with friends at the Todt Hill Senior Center

Tips on staying cool this summer

Heat-related illnesses rise dramatically if a heat wave lasts longer than two days. Young children and seniors may be particularly vulnerable.

The New York City Office of Emergency Management at http://gis.nyc.gov/oem/cc/index.htm can provide helpful information about how to stay cool, including information on cooling centers. You can also call 311 (For hearing impaired, TTY 212-504-4115).

When the temperature rises, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Seniors and others who may be sensitive to extreme heat should contact friends, neighbors or relatives at least twice a day during a heat wave.

  • Drink fluids – particularly water – even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid beverages containing alcohol, caffeine or high amounts of sugar.

  • Make a special effort to check on your neighbors during a heat wave, especially if they are seniors, young children or people with special needs.

  • Cool showers or baths may be helpful, but avoid extreme temperature changes, which may make you ill, nauseated or dizzy. Never take a shower immediately after becoming overheated.

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