Assemblymember Cahill: Our Communities Fared Well in the 2007 Legislative Session
Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D-Ulster, Dutchess) highlighted today funding and legislation he was able to deliver for the 101st Assembly District during the 2007 Legislative Session. "Over the past number of months I worked very hard on behalf of the communities I represent to pass a budget and other key local legislative initiatives that will have a great positive impact on our region."
"In April we enacted a budget that delivered an historic investment in New York's education system, providing an unprecedented $1.7 billion increase in state aid," said Assemblymember Cahill. "This infusion of funding helped many of our school districts hold the line on property taxes without sacrificing our children's education."
Schools in the 101st Assembly District received nearly $12 million more than last year:
Assemblymember Cahill fought diligently to secure a separate $100,000 appropriation for the Onteora Central School District to help offset an unanticipated reduction in the state's share of transportation aid.
"As a member of the health budget conference committee, I helped to broker a budget agreement to significantly change the state's approach to health care, to expand health coverage to 400,000 uninsured children while managing to avoid potentially crippling cuts to our hospitals and nursing homes," said Mr. Cahill.
When the budget process began, hospitals in the 101st Assembly District alone hospitals were facing about $1.2 million in cuts with 70% of those reductions directed at Benedictine Hospital. The nursing homes in our communities would have fared even worse, as they were looking at cuts in excess of $6 million, with the Northeast Center for Special Care and Ferncliff Nursing Home expected to absorb nearly $3.6 million of that total. "These cuts would have decimated health care delivery in Ulster County, so I am particularly pleased that we were able to work with the Governor to protect our health care institutions and the well-being of families by restoring a significant amount of spending cuts," said Assemblymember Cahill.
Mr. Cahill was able to deliver $10.74 million in the budget to complete the renovation of Old Main on the SUNY New Paltz campus. Assemblymember Cahill, a SUNY New Paltz graduate, has always been strong advocate for the university. Since being elected to the Assembly, Mr. Cahill has been instrumental in securing $23 million for the renovation of Old Main, $10 million for the expansion of the Student Union Building as well as the funding for the new multi-million dollar athletic facility on campus.
"Throughout this session I worked diligently to move legislation to protect our communities from the unwise developments and sprawl that have been creeping their way up the Hudson Valley," said Mr. Cahill. The Assemblymember passed legislation that extends a key provision of the law governing the Hudson River Valley Greenway so that it may go forward with its efforts to develop and implement smart growth strategies in our communities. He also advanced a bill that will allow municipalities in Ulster County to join in the Hudson Valley Community Preservation Act which will give them the ability to enact a revenue stream dedicated to preserving open space.
"Not only will these initiatives help to protect the open space that defines our area, but they will also play a key role in protecting our communities from the flooding that has been ravaging our area as overdevelopment and sprawl have been sited as major contributing factors in flooding," noted the Assemblymember. Senator Saland was successful in passing the Greenway bill in the Senate and it is likely to be signed into law by the Governor. The Senate has so far failed to enact the Ulster County Community Preservation Act despite overwhelming support from the County Legislature and many local governments as well.
Assemblymember Cahill also took the lead role in organizing a bi-partisan legislative flood caucus that is working with the Governor's office to develop an implement a comprehensive plan to deal with the disastrous flooding that has impacted significant portions of the state in recent years. "It is clear that flooding is an issue that the state must address," said Mr. Cahill. I will be working closely with Michael Balboni, the Governor's chief public safety advisor, over the next few months to come up with a plan to better prepare and protect New Yorkers from future disasters."
Taking advantage of the fact that the City of Kingston was recently named as one of the ten best places for artists in America, Assemblymember Cahill worked with a small group of colleagues to pass legislation directing the New York State Council on the Arts to develop a pilot grant program, to be conducted in the cities of Kingston, Syracuse, Rochester, and New York, to provide grants of up to $20,000 to working artists and arts organizations. The funding is to be used to secure space for an artist's studios, either performance or gallery, as well as living quarters. "With a long heritage as an Arts Mecca, our area was already on the cultural map. Now the arts community, especially in Kingston, is playing a vital role revitalizing urban and rural communities throughout New York State by living and working in neighborhoods long-abandoned by mainstream industry," remarked Mr. Cahill.
"I was proud to have partnered with Senator Larkin this session to pass legislation that will bolster our agricultural economy," said Assemblymember Cahill. "Together we worked to significantly expand the Shawangunk Wine Trail which will help to further the Hudson Valley's growing reputation for producing some of the finest wines in the world." The representatives also advanced a bill to give local farm-based distilleries access to market their New York produced products to restaurants throughout the state.
A few years ago Assemblymember Cahill played an instrumental role in paving the way for the rise of the microbrewery industry in New York by working to pass legislation that created a two-tiered brewery license that gave the opportunity for small New York based brewers compete with the corporate giants that dominate the nation's beer market. This year, Mr. Cahill was successful in his efforts to change the law in order to give a local business an opportunity to expand their already successful operation. "I am hopeful that this legislation will help the Skytop Brewing Company carve out a niche in the growing micro-brewed beer market which will in turn produce a positive ripple effect on our local economy."
"In the coming months I will continue my efforts to bring economic development assistance to the region, including my continued commitment to advocate on behalf of the recently announced project at Tech City which in my view offers the greatest promise for economic revitalization of our local economy I have seen to date," Mr. Cahill concluded.