2018-04-11 / Political Page

I On Politics

REGARDING THE BUDGETS:

Addabbo Praises Education, Transportation Funding In Budget, But… : The New York State Senate has officially passed an one-time $168.3 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2019 that addresses funding for schools, transportation, NYCHA, and more. While Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. praises the budget’s attention to school funding, transportation and tax help for the middle class, he believes the process could be more transparent, and the budget could have done much more on important issues that all New Yorkers face.

As the ranking member of the Senate Education Committee, Addabbo is pleased to see an increase of approximately $1 billion for education aid, which amounts to a record total of $26.7 billion for the 2018-2019 school year—a 36 percent increase since 2012. This budget also invests $25 million to expand pre-kindergarten and afterschool programs, as well as $7.6 billion in state support for higher education.

Addabbo said, “[I]t isn’t just the young students that enjoyed increases in education funding. The state has invested $118 million to continue the higher education Excelsior Scholarship program, and $1.2 billion for strategic programs that aim to make college more affordable for all New Yorkers.”

In order to help New York City’s growing homeless crisis, the FY 2019 budget includes a historic $250 million for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to create quality living conditions for tenants and implements new oversight measures, as well as design/build legislation that will expedite future NYCHA building projects. Addabbo said the agency “has been seriously failing some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers in recent years. While the Mayor and Governor continue to conflict over NYCHA, real people with families are living in terrible conditions, sometimes without hot water or heat. This historic level of funding and oversight will go a long way in helping these families.”

This budget also address the city’s major transportation needs by fully funding the Subway Action Plan with state funds for half of the $836 million plan—while New York City foots the remainder of the funds—to make immediate repairs to improve subway performance and maintenance. It also creates a $2.75 surcharge south of 96th Street in Manhattan on for-hire vehicles, including both yellow and green cabs and rideshare companies like Uber to help ease vehicular congestion in the city.

“Although it is paramount that we make efforts to reduce the congestion in the city, I’m concerned that a for-hire vehicle surcharge could push the cost onto customers, which will have a negative impact on low- and middle-income New Yorkers,” Addabbo said. “One way to get more cars off the roads is to provide residents with reliable public transportation, and the city and state fully funding the Subway Action Plan will go a long way in doing just that.”

While Addabbo praised some aspects of the budget, the Senator believes that much more could have been done on a number of important issues.

Addabbo is particularly concerned over the lack of transparency in the budget process, and a lack of diversity in the decision-making process as Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart- Cousins—the only female leader in the legislature— was excluded from the process. He also believes “The FY 2019 budget fails to find more ways to protect LGBTQ New Yorkers; deal with climate change, including meeting the Diesel Emissions Standards set forward by DERA; adequately help our local municipalities more and increase our AIM funding; or pass the Child Victims Act to address the need to provide justice to sexual abuse survivors, among other issues.”

The Senator stated, “I am hopeful that now that the budget is complete, we can legislatively address school safety, sensible gun safety measures, ethics reform and improve the voting process.”

CROWLEY ADVOCATES FOR ADDITIONAL COLLEGE FUNDING: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) announced his request for additional funding for federal aid programs that benefit low-income college students in the upcoming 2019 government funding bill.

The three campus-based aid programs, the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, Federal Work-Study, and Perkins Loans, work together with Pell Grants and Direct Student Loans to provide low-income students with a manageable balance of grants, loans, and work to help pay for college. In the most recent academic year, more than 188,000 awards totaling $280 million in tuition assistance were granted through these programs in New York State.

Funding for work-study programs and opportunity grants were slashed in recent years as congressional Republicans pushed forward budgets that dramatically lessened domestic spending on education. And, earlier this year, Congress failed to reauthorize the Perkins Loan program, which helps fill the gap for students with unmet financial needs.

More than 80 members joined Congress Member Crowley’s push to increase funding for these programs by $67 million.

“With higher spending allocations for FY 2019, the campus-based aid programs can be reinvigorated to become the strong institutional partnership programs to the Pell Grant program they are intended to be,” the lawmakers wrote to the House Committee on Appropriations. “The aid these programs provide to low-income students and families is indispensable in allowing them to attend college without having to borrow or work more to pay for college, which results in increased rates of degree completion.”

PERALTA HELPS ALLOCATE $550M FOR NYCHA: NYS Senator Jose Peralta said, “NYCHA residents deserve living conditions that are, above all, safe and decent. As NYCHA is currently facing a crisis, I fought tirelessly to set up an Independent Monitor and bring $550 million in state allocations, funding that will be used to make repairs in buildings, including boilers and getting rid of lead and mold in housing units. Tenants need to be protected, and I am glad the reports we issued, including ‘The New Flint’ and ‘Break the Mold: Cleaning Up NYCHA’s Mess’ will help prevent deplorable situations at NYCHA and improve the living conditions of its approximately 400,000 residents.”

QUEENS LAWMAKERS ANNOUNCE $50 MILLION FOR OUTER BOROUGH TRANSIT: In response to the State Legislature and the Governor reaching an agreement in the 2018-19 state budget to create an annual fund dedicating $50 million to outer borough transit, New York State Assembly Members representing Queens released the following statements:

“While the transportation crisis in New York City has worsened, my colleagues and I have fought tirelessly this year to ensure that the state budget finally helps riders in outer boroughs whose needs have gone unmet for far too long,” said Assembly Member Nily Rozic (D,WF-Fresh Meadows). “As a representative of an area with no subway or train lines and very limited bus options, I look forward to working on ensuring that these funds are properly allocated to improve Queens transit.”

The Assembly began actively negotiating transit funding in response to recommendations in the January report released by the Governor-appointed Fix NYC Advisory Panel. Queens Assembly Members immediately responded with concerns that any proposed solutions and revenue streams would not properly serve the outer boroughs. Residents in eastern Queens, for example, rely heavily on bus service for their daily commute, and the panel recommendations do not clearly outline a plan to enhance or improve current bus infrastructure or routes.

Queens is the largest borough geographically, making route connectivity for inter-borough travel a priority as transit riders are currently burdened by the lack of subway lines and major transfer stations. An analysis of lines shows that Queens ranks last in subway access, and while the population continues to grow, transit access remains unchanged. Intra- and inter-borough transportation is so lacking that fewer than half of the 3.4 million trips are made on transit.

“We all know our transit system is beyond the breaking point. I was glad to have been able to fight to secure $50 million dedicated to outer borough transit. Outer borough riders deserve these funds, and my colleagues and I will make sure these funds are used to fix our transit system in the outer boroughs,” said Assembly Member Brian Barnwell (D-Maspeth).

“I am proud to join my colleagues in securing $50 million in new outer borough transit funding,” said Assembly Member Edward C. Braunstein (D-Bayside). “With this new funding, we aim to improve transit options in some of the most underserved parts of our city.”

“As New York City faces one of the worst public transportation crises in recent memory, I applaud the efforts of Assemblywoman Rozic and my colleagues in the Assembly for reaching an agreement in the 2018-19 state budget to form an annual, multi-million dollar fund for improvement projects dedicated to outer borough transit,” said Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills).

“This dedicated revenue stream to address the transportation deserts in Queens must be used expeditiously to assist our current sub-par bus systems. We will be vigilant in monitoring the progress of this fund,” said Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman (D-Springfield Gardens).

“The Assembly successfully negotiated a $50 million dollar budget for better public transportation in Queens. I look forward working with my colleagues in the Assembly and representatives from the MTA to make sure all Queens constituents have reliable and accessible transportation,” said Assembly Member Michael Miller (D-Woodhaven).

MENG MEASURES TO HELP VETS AND PROMOTE DIVERSITY IN MILITARY PASSED INTO LAW: US Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, announced she has secured several important provisions to assist veterans and strengthen diversity in the US Armed Forces. These measures are items that Meng attached to the omnibus spending bill that was recently signed into law. They include:

• Directing the Secretary of Defense to fund outreach efforts at minority-serving colleges and universities in order to recruit more minorities into officer positions within the US military. This is an effort to correct the underrepresentation of minorities in officer ranks across the military.

• Directing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to expand its no-cost flu shots for vets program at local pharmacies to cover additional vaccines.

• Directing the Department of Defense and the VA to establish a program that assists transitioning military medical professionals find employment in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). This is an effort to address the staff shortages at the VHA, which serves over 9 million veterans.

“I am proud of these provisions and believe they will provide greater preventive care for our veterans, offer military medical professionals more employment opportunities that align with their skillsets, and produce more US officers in the military who are minorities,” said Meng. “Our veterans deserve our unwavering support and gratitude for their service. These provisions are a first step to addressing challenges that veterans and the military face and I look forward to helping them in the next fiscal year.”

The omnibus bill funds the federal government through the end of fiscal year 2018, which runs through the end of September.

NO SEX BETWEEN POLICE OFFICERS AND THOSE IN CUSTODY: Assembly Member Edward C. Braunstein (D-Bayside) announced the Assembly and Senate passed legislation he proposed that would establish an incapacity to consent when a person is detained or otherwise in the custody of a law enforcement officer.

Under current law, sexual contact is prohibited between corrections officers and parole officers and those in their custody, but this statutory restriction does not expressly include police officers. This legislation would amend the Penal Law to also expressly include police officers.

“The power dynamic between someone in custody and the officers themselves is such that the individual in custody is incapable of consenting to sexual activity,” said Braunstein. “State law already prohibits sexual contact between corrections officers and parole officers and those in their custody. This common-sense legislation ensures that individuals in police custody are also protected from coercive sexual behavior committed by officers exploiting their authority.”

Council Member Mark Treyger said, “This horrific rape outraged our nation, and from day one, I have made it clear I would do whatever it took to advocate for common-sense consent laws to make sure that this could never happen again. I am proud that our leaders at the state level have recognized the need to finally close this antiquated loophole and ensure that our laws on sexual consent align with basic common sense and human decency.”

NO SEX BETWEEN POLICE OFFICERS AND THOSE IN CUSTODY: Assembly Member Edward C. Braunstein (D-Bayside) announced the Assembly and Senate passed legislation he proposed that would establish an incapacity to consent when a person is detained or otherwise in the custody of a law enforcement officer.

Under current law, sexual contact is prohibited between corrections officers and parole officers and those in their custody, but this statutory restriction does not expressly include police officers. This legislation would amend the Penal Law to also expressly include police officers.

“The power dynamic between someone in custody and the officers themselves is such that the individual in custody is incapable of consenting to sexual activity,” said Braunstein. “State law already prohibits sexual contact between corrections officers and parole officers and those in their custody. This common-sense legislation ensures that individuals in police custody are also protected from coercive sexual behavior committed by officers exploiting their authority.”

Council Member Mark Treyger said, “This horrific rape outraged our nation, and from day one, I have made it clear I would do whatever it took to advocate for common-sense consent laws to make sure that this could never happen again. I am proud that our leaders at the state level have recognized the need to finally close this antiquated loophole and ensure that our laws on sexual consent align with basic common sense and human decency.”

MALONEY ENDORSED BY NEW YORK STATE AFL-CIO: US Rep. Carolyn Maloney welcomed on April 3 an endorsement in her reelection campaign from the New York State AFL-CIO, which champions rights and protections far beyond their 3,000 affiliated union locals and their 2.5 million members, retirees and families.

“I am proud to stand with the working men and women of this city and their leaders in the New York State AFL-CIO as we fight to take back Democratic control of the Congress and reverse the false promises and destructive actions of the Trump administration,” said Maloney, who represents New York’s 12th Congressional District. “Whether private or public sector, or the building trades, unions have been, and continue to be, the key to expanding economic justice in this city and this country. Together we can build a better America.”

NYS AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento pointed to Maloney’s effectiveness in advancing progressive legislation to benefit working families as he announced the federation’s endorsement.

“Carolyn has proven to be a powerful advocate for working men and women and has demonstrated a clear commitment to issues important to the labor movement,” said Cilento. “She helped lead the way on the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, and has fought hard for infrastructure funding and job creation in New York City and the rest of the country. We look forward to working just as hard to get our members to the polls to reelect Carolyn Maloney to Congress.”

In supporting Maloney, the NYS AFL-CIO joined a broad cross-section of unions, progressive groups championing women’s and environmental rights, Democratic organizations and every Democratic elected official on the state, city and federal level who represent part of her district.

The Democratic Congressional Primary is Tuesday, June 26.

Maloney is currently a senior member of both the House Financial Services Committee (where she serves as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Capital Markets) and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and the Ranking House Member of the Joint Economic Committee. She has served as a Regional Whip and as Vice-Chair of the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.

Maloney has authored and passed more than 70 measures, including the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act and its reauthorization to make sure all those suffering health ailments associated with 9/11 get the care and compensation they need and deserve; the Debbie Smith Act, which increases funding for law enforcement to process DNA rape kits and has been called “the most important anti-rape legislation in history”; and the Credit CARD Act, also known as the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights, which the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) reported has saved consumers more than $16 billion annually since it was signed into law in 2009.

New York’s 12th Congressional District includes parts of western Queens, including Astoria, Long Island City, parts of Woodside; most of the East Side of Manhattan; Roosevelt Island; and northwest Brooklyn, including Greenpoint.

PHEFFER AMATO BILL AIMS TO CURB SEX HARRASSMENT IN SCHOOLS: Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-South Queens) is urging the passage of bill A. 10129, which she co-sponsors. The bill would establish educational programs for the prevention of sexual harassment in schools by contracting an outside entity whose expertise is sexual harassment in schools. The State Education Commissioner, along with other major educational stakeholders, has deemed this a major issue. The education program would include an age-appropriate curriculum, including exemplar lessons and resources for students, staff, and parents to use.

“When we look at the national scene and the news dealing with sexual harassment, we wonder how this can happen so frequently? By educating our youth at an earlier age it can hopefully decrease or prevent the instances of sexual harassment in our schools and throughout the state,” said Pheffer Amato. “This legislation will go a long way to raise awareness and foster productive conversations on reducing the prevalence of harassment.”

The bill is currently in the Assembly Committee on Education.

MALONEY LEADS BRIEF SUPPORTING SCHNEIDERMAN’S SUIT TO PROTECT CENSUS INTEGRITY: Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), co-Chair of the House Census Caucus, announced that she will lead an amicus brief from members of Congress in support of the lawsuit led by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to prevent the politicization of the 2020 Census via inclusion of a citizenship question.

“Every effort must be made to fight the Trump administration’s thinly veiled attempt to wage an unconstitutional assault on our census—which is why I was proud to stand with AG Schneiderman today and why I intend to lead an amicus brief of members of Congress in support of this multi-state lawsuit to prevent the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.

“In addition to my plans to lead an amicus brief, I have introduced the 2020 Census IDEA act, to prevent this and any other last-minute changes that threaten the integrity of the census. Our democracy depends on a full and accurate count of our nation and the Trump administration cannot be allowed to compromise that.”

SENATOR PERALTA’S STATEMENT OF UNITY, SUPPORT FOR GOVERNOR: “Since the election of Trump, my constituents, and the rest of New Yorkers, have been constantly under attack. This is why it is vital for all Democrats to work and fight together to protect all New Yorkers. Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, we will be able to promote our values and ensure our progressive common agenda moves forward.”

‘HOLD HEARING ON TRUMP’S FAILURE TO PROTECT ELECTIONS FROM RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE’: Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), senior member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, formally requested that Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) hold a hearing into the Trump administration’s failure and refusal to use the funds provided to protect election integrity in the wake of Russian interference in 2016.

In the letter, the Congress Member states, “Unfortunately, President Trump has continued to deliberately minimize Russia’s actions and undermine the US response to Russian election interference. Making matters worse was the President’s call congratulating Russian President Vladimir Putin for his victory in what many experts characterize as an illegitimate election. US commitment to protecting our free and open elections needs to be unequivocal and if the Trump administration cannot live up to the standard, then Congress must act to make sure it does.”

Maloney explained in her letter that “Russia’s interference in our country’s 2016 presidential election … is well documented. That is why the Obama Administration and Congress committed $120 million in 2016 for the State Department to counter these actions by Russia and why Congress recently provided an additional $250 million for this effort in the recently passed FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations bill. Shockingly, however, the State Department has thus far failed to spend any of these funds…I am requesting that the Committee hold a hearing to examine the Trump administration’s response to any present or future threat Russia or other foreign adversaries pose to our election process.”

She added that “US Intelligence agencies have confirmed that Russian state entities sought to undermine our democratic process by spreading propaganda intended to sow discord throughout the American electorate to influence the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election. Furthermore, intelligence officials believe that this strategy is likely to be repeated in future US elections.”

Specifically, Maloney noted that reports indicate that the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, which is tasked with countering Russian meddling in our election process, “remains critically understaffed with only 23 analysts, zero Russian language speakers, and an inability to hire new experts because of a Department-wide hiring freeze.”

Maloney concluded, “Unless the US acts, Russian interference in our democratic process will be allowed to continue. That is why I urge you to call a hearing into the administration’s refusal to invest resources that Congress provided to protect our election processes.”

CROWLEY ON MARCH JOBS REPORT: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement on the March jobs report:

“Working families are struggling, and the chaos President Trump has created is putting our economy and the financial stability of everyday Americans in jeopardy. Today’s report shows trepidation in our economy and stagnant wages. On top of the slow job growth evidenced in this report, President Trump is putting middle-class families and American jobs at further risk as he doubles down on a potential trade war with China. Americans deserves better and I hope President Trump will one day soon put forward a vision for how to grow our economy and govern responsibly.”

—With contributions by Annette Hanze Alberts

Return to top

Copyright 1999-2018 The Service Advertising Group, Inc. All rights reserved.