E-Mail Newsletter – February 15, 2014

The Governor’s budget proposal is at the forefront of discussion and I continue to advocate on a variety of budget-related issues, including:

+ Municipal aid. Local governments in New York State are struggling to maintain basic services, while managing increasing costs, yet Aid to Municipalities (AIM) has been level funded for the past four years. To assist in this effort, I’m advocating for an overdue increase to AIM funding.

+ Education. Almost 70 percent of school districts have less operating aid than five years ago and local districts anticipate additional cutbacks, given the Governor’s proposed 3.1 percent increase. Urging restoration of this operating aid remains a top priority. I am also advocating the need to restore the cuts to the base aid rate for the state’s community colleges to 2008-09 pre-recession levels, and to address funding inequities between counties, particularly in regard to "chargeback" costs for a Albany County residents who attend Hudson Valley Community College.

+ Road safety. Funding has remained stagnant for the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) but remains critical for local road and infrastructure repair. Last year’s $75 million increase equaled the total amount lost due to inflation over the previous five years but was insufficient in keeping pace with local demand. I requested a three percent increase in CHIPS funding this year.

+ Environmental Protection Fund. In addition to being a critical and dedicated source for funding for environmental programs that improve the health and well-being of all New York residents, every dollar invested in EPF generates seven dollars in economic return, while creating thousands of jobs. The EPF fund is currently funded at $157 million, down from $250 million in 2008-09. I strongly urge that we work toward restoring the fund to the 2008-09 level by increasing the fund in the 2014 budget to $200 million.

+ Universal afterschool. The Governor’s proposal to expand access to afterschool enrichment enables students to extend the learning day and has a demonstrated positive impact on grades and attendance while reducing crime. I support that we invest $9 million in quality infrastructure (classroom space) to prepare for the $160 million appropriation for afterschool programs by the Governor in the 2015-16 budget.

Global Partners at Port of Albany: This week, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation held a public hearing on the proposal by Global Partners to build boilers at the Port of Albany to heat crude oil as it passes through our region. Dozens of concerned citizens expressed serious and legitimate concerns on the safety of high quantities of crude oil being transported and transferred through and near densely populated neighborhoods. What started as a local matter is rapidly developing into one with national ramifications. I have joined local electeds in meeting with DEC to share these concerns and, as the situation develops, I will keep you regularly informed.

Take advantage of available tax credits: Each year, too many hard-working families miss out on thousands of dollars in tax savings that are available to them via the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The CASH Coalition works to ensure that EITC-eligible residents receive free tax preparation assistance so that they can keep their entire credit and avoid the high fees charged elsewhere.

Promoting tourism in the Adirondacks: Governor Cuomo announced the creation of a new online recreation tool to help with your next trip to the Adirondacks. VisitAdirondacks.com will make it easier for visitors to find attractions and points of interest within the Adirondack Park.

Applications due for Leadership New York Institute: The Center for Women in Government and Civil Society will be holding its 2014 NEW Leadership New York (NLNY) Summer Institute from Wednesday, May 28 to Tuesday, June 3 at the University at Albany. Applications are due on Friday, Feb. 28. NLNY is the first and only program of its kind in New York State, and is part of the National Education for Women's (NEW) Leadership Network. The entire program, accommodations and meals are provided free of charge to all participants.

Congratulations to Guilderland Town Supervisor Ken Runion: On Saturday, the Altamont Public Library honored Guilderland Town Supervisor Ken Runion as part of their annual celebration. Ken was instrumental in issuing a $300,000 bond from the Town to cover the purchase price of the Altamont train station, thereby preserving the historic 1897 train station in the heart of the Village and providing Altamont with a Library that is accessible to all. I joined Congressman Tonko, Senator Tkaczyk, and Altamont Mayor Gaughan in celebrating Ken’s commitment to service to the residents and businesses of Guilderland.

Events in and around the 109th:

+ In November 1793, three enslaved Africans were charged with arson and awaited execution due to a fire that raged through Albany. They were to be hanged, yet they received a temporary reprieve from the Governor. On Feb. 22 at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., there will be tours of the Schuyler Mansion state historic site (32 Catherine Street, Albany) to learn about this dramatic event.

+ On Feb. 23 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Town and Country Lanes (2509 Western Avenue, Guilderland) will host Bowl for a Good Cause for Autism Awareness. $12 per person will include two hours of bowling and shoe rental. Pre-registration is recommended. All proceeds will go to Autism Awareness.

Job Opportunities: I’ve set up a page on my Assembly website for job announcements and listings that we’ll update periodically. If you know of any job listings, send my office a note.

Capital District Assembly Update: Tune in every Tuesday at 5 p.m. on Channel 17 (for Time Warner Cable subscribers) for the next episode of Capital District Assembly Update, co-hosted by Assemblymember McDonald and me. You can also previous episodes and clips on my Assembly website.

As always, for the latest about my office’s happenings or for upcoming events, please visit my office online, on Facebook, on Twitter, or my Times Union blog. If you would like to reach my office, please feel free to send us a note.

Sincerely ---