2017-02-08 / Editorials

Proposals To Protect Seniors, Middle Class, Crime Victims

BY BRIAN BARNWELL, NYS ASSEMBLY MEMBER, DISTRICT 30

I have been in office for a month now, but wanted to write you all to let you know some pieces of legislation I have proposed. My policies focus on the middle class and seniors; both groups that I feel have been ignored for too long. We need to save the taxpayer more money, make housing affordable, and make sure our streets are safe.

I believe that property taxes are too high, and that many seniors are being forced out of the homes that they have been living in for decades. A retiree will more than likely have more money saved when they are 65 than when they are 80. Our policies must reflect this, so I have proposed to have seniors’ property taxes progressively lowered as they age. The older the individual gets, the lower their taxes should be.

Another policy I put forward deals with putting more money in the individual retiree’s pocket. Currently, those aged 59 and a half can subtract $20,000 from their federal adjusted gross income. My proposal will help retirees take home more of their pensions and annuities each year by allowing individuals to subtract $30,000 from their federal adjusted gross income.

Two pieces of legislation that I have drafted deal with criminal justice reform, specifically sentencing. I will not stand for violent criminals who feel they can threaten people with violence, or even worse, act on that threat. Those criminals who have Orders of Protection out against them often do not fear jail time if they violate such an order. Orders of Protection are issued to keep people safe. My bill will mandate jail time for any person who violates an Order of Protection with violence. Another bill of mine deals with giving longer sentences for violent criminals who commit horrific sexual assault, such as rape, or the sexual abuse of a child. My proposal will allow, but not mandate, judges to give these appalling criminals lifetime sentences, with or without parole. The victims of these atrocities will never be the same, so a judge should be able to sentence these menaces to a lifetime behind bars.

We all know we have an affordable housing crisis in New York City. The reason why is because the formula that calculates what is affordable is flawed. In determining affordability, New York uses a number known as the area median income (AMI), which is determined on an annual basis by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. New York, like any other state, has diverse zip codes where the area median income differs greatly. The current formula used for affordability often results in increasing the overall AMI for neighborhoods by grouping more affluent neighborhoods with lesser affluent neighborhoods in the same calculation. The current practice also takes into account the AMI of Westchester, Putnam, and Rockland Counties. My proposal mandates that when affordable housing projects are built, the AMI that must be used to determine affordability is the AMI of the particular zip code that the project is located in. Under this proposal, affordable housing being built in a specific area will actually reflect the median income of the people who already live there. For those who say that developers won’t build in less affluent neighborhoods, my answer to them is that then there won’t be any gentrification. The area will remain affordable for the lifelong residents of that community, and nobody will be priced out.

I thank you all for granting me the honor to serve you in the NY State Assembly. Our office is located at 55-19 69th Street in Maspeth, and we are open from 9 am – 6 pm Monday through Friday. We also have office hours on select Saturdays, and are also scheduling office hours throughout the district at many different community centers. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for any assistance, our number is 718-651-3185.

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