With Election Day now behind us and the political campaigns ended, it is time to get back to the people’s business. Certainly, there is a great deal to be done.
New York State’s fiscal health must be considered a top priority. While this is not a new revelation, it was reinforced by the latest spending and revenue report from New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. According to the comptroller’s report, revenue for fiscal year 2010-2011 will be $943 million lower than expected and spending will be $288 million higher. Simply put, the state budget doesn’t add up.
Queens, NY, November 8, 2010 – With Election Day over, along with the mailers, phone calls and commercials, State Senator Joseph Addabbo says it’s time to focus on restoring faith back to the residents that their state government will be responsive to their concerns. “Elected officials have a lot of work to do in making people know that their state legislature can operate in a professional and responsible manner.” The Senator understands that this will not be an easy task given the general frustration amongst the public and the previous dysfunction in Albany.
If you consider the 2010 election season in terms of horse racing – and I’ve been reading more than a few critics this election season lamenting that America’s political discourse has become little more than sports entertainment in too many races – then voters have reached the home stretch. It’s time to cross the finish line.
It’s time to decide.
So while it’s hard in these final days to cut through the negative advertising and all the rest, here’s my own issues scorecard on what I hope will guide voters’ decisions on November 2nd :
Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins announced that she has introduced legislation (S8165A) to eliminate 118 public authorities and agencies that are no longer active. The 118 authorities, located across New York State, include defunct industrial development agencies, community development agencies, urban renewal agencies and various other public authorities.
“This legislation reduces the size of government, eliminating more than 15% of the public authorities in the State of New York. This is an important step in curbing excessive spending and hiring practices of public authorities and agencies. They operate as autonomous organizations without accountability, and create a huge financial burden on taxpayers,” said Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins (35th District – D/WF).
In reviewing what summer 2010 will be remembered for, I am struck by the BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf, the hottest summer on record in New York City and a disturbing upsurge in Islamophobia throughout the US, including right here in New York City.
Early September this year brings the Jewish New Year (L’SHANA TOVA 5771 to those of you who are celebrating) and so too the end of Ramadan for the Muslim community, which is celebrated with a big feast, that happens to fall on September 11th this year. Jewish and Muslim holidays move dates every year due to solar changes.
Governor signs bill to combat sprawl and promote environmentally sound development
Senator Suzi Oppenheimer (D-Mamaroneck) is pleased to announce that her bill, the State Smart Growth and Infrastructure Policy Act (S.5560B/A.8011B) was signed into law on August 30, 2010. The new law establishes state smart growth infrastructure criteria and requires state agencies to review and consider these guidelines when allocating funds for public infrastructure projects.
Senator Oppenheimer speaks at the press conferenceannouncing New York's victory in the Race to the Top competition. From Lto R: Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Speaker Sheldon Silver, Michael Mulgrew,President of the United Federation of Teachers, Senator Suzi Oppenheimer,Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, New York City Counsel SpeakerChristine Quinn
Photo Caption: Senator Oppenheimer listens to Mayor Michael Bloomberg atpress conference announcing New York's winning of $700 million in Race tothe Top funding. From L to R: Senator John Sampson, Mayor MichaelBloomberg, Michael Mulgrew, Chancellor Merryl Tisch, Christine Quinn,Speaker of the NYC Counsel, Senator Suzi Oppenheimer
Queens, NY, August 16, 2010 -- NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D-Queens) today announced that the passage of a law to enable the merger of the New York State Office of Real Property Services (ORPS) and the Department of Taxation and Finance (DTF) is a step in the right direction of making the state government more efficient. “By consolidating the agency responsible for New York State taxation with the agency that oversees local property tax administration, the State will realize more than $2 million in annual savings,” explained Addabbo. “In addition, the merger will allow for significant administrative and program efficiencies.”
“Today, we closed down the budget process by passing a revenue bill that keeps my commitment to the people of Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties to block the governor’s proposed new taxes. After months of frustration that we all felt, this budget, while far from perfect, is a considerable improvement on where we were April 1.
Reading the just-released “2010 Annual Report on Local Governments” from the office of the New York State Comptroller, what’s not surprising is the message it conveys of hard times for local communities statewide.
Senate Task Force on Government EfficiencyChair: Senator Jeffrey D. KleinPublic Forum: To examine spending at the Office for People with Developmental DisabilitiesPlace: Senate Hearing Room, 250 Broadway, Room 1920, 19th Floor,New York, New YorkTime: 1:00 to 4:00 P.M.Contact: Gabriel Paniza (518) 455-3594Media Contact: Gwen Rocco (718) 822-2049
Bi-Partisanship Effort Amongst Members is Key to Approval
The Yonkers City Council tonight voted 6-1 to approve the City’s FY 2010-11 Budget and provide the mayor with the necessary financial resources to restore essential services and jobs. Councilmember Joan Gronowski voted against its adoption.
The budget’s passage follows an announcement earlier today by NYS Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, NYS Senator Jeff Klein, NYS Assemblyman Mike Spano and NYS Assemblyman Gary Pretlow that $36.4 million in educational aid was being returned to Yonkers for school funding.
New York's budget crisis is forcing government at all levels to re-evaluate how it allocates increasingly rare public dollars. As officials seek to identify and eliminate wasteful and unnecessary spending, they will find some of the waste is hiding in plain sight.
Travel to downtown Buffalo or to many of the state's older suburbs and you'll find decaying sidewalks, half-empty shopping centers, vacant lots and abandoned homes. Then travel a few more miles into what was until recently open countryside, and you'll find big new homes sprouting from former farm fields. Meanwhile, the population of many counties and the state continues to decline.
Recreational opportunities at the region's 17 parks abound for visitors of all ages and interests. From lakeside camping at Four Mile Creek to the Visual and Preforming Arts focus of Knox Farm State Park to Niagara Falls State Park, the gem of the Niagara Region and the oldest state park in the country, there is something for every member of the family in the Niagara region.
From the world-famous Jones Beach to the great golfing opportunities at Bethpage State Park, Long Island is gifted with some of the best parks and recreational facilities in the country. Long Island's 20 state parks and historic sites attract nearly 20 million visitors annually.
Encompassing one-third of the total land area of New York State, the Adirondack Park is unique in the United States. Within its boundaries are vast forests and rolling farmlands, towns and villages, mountains and valleys, lakes, ponds and free-flowing rivers, private lands and public forest.
With its mineral baths, effervescent waters, performing arts center, and outstanding golfing facilities, Saratoga Spa State Park is one of New York State's best. The Peerless Pool Complex, the only pool complex at a state park with a waterslide, adds even more to its already beautiful facilities.
Stretching from Lake Ontario north along the St. Lawrence River to Lake Champlain, the Thousand Islands Region -- which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1997 -- includes 30 state parks, 1 historic site and 6 boat launches, as well as thousands of great campsites.
While New York City is famous for its people, Broadway shows, sports and tourist sites, it has also become home to several outstanding state parks including the Riverbank State Park located in Manhattan and the Roberto Clemente State Park located along the Harlem River in the Bronx.
Bear Mountain State Park offers miles of biking and hiking trails as well as great views. At Harriman State Park, visitors can seek solitude along 300 miles of trails including the first segment of the Appalachian Trail. At Minnewaska State Park Preserve, one of the 75 great places in the Western Hemisphere, 50 miles of carriageways invite exploration of nature.
Stately mansions, scenic vistas, woodland trails and recreation areas lie just a short drive from New York City on the eastern side of the Hudson. State historic sites within the region include Olana, a Moorish-style mansion atop a hill with panoramic views of the Hudson, and Philipse Manor Hall, a beautiful Georgian structure offering exhibits on history, arts and architecture.
New York's Catskill Mountains include one of the largest and most complex natural areas in the East - on par with the West's Yellowstone National Park. Round, forested mountains; narrow, winding valleys; rushing streams and rivers are features that attract many to the 600,000 acres of the Catskill Park.
As one of the largest regions within the state parks system, the Central Region encompasses a 9,000-square-mile area, from the shores of Lake Ontario in the north, to the Pennsylvania state line in the south. The physical beauty of the glacially carved lakes, valleys, waterfalls, and mountains is stunning.
Like giant fingerprints of Ice Age glaciers, the Finger Lakes span across Central New York. Water and its works are the attractions and State Parks are jewels on the fingers. Eleven parks front on lakes, while six feature gorges with waterfalls. One of the highest waterfalls in the east, Taughannock plunges into a canyon that opens to Cayuga Lake, the longest Finger Lake.
Known as the "Grand Canyon of the East," Letchworth State Park offers 14,350 acres of scenic magnificance as well as a multitude of year-round recreational opportunities. A 17 mile gorge, carved by the Genesee River as it meanders through the park, provides spectacular views at every turn. Letchworth's 270 campsites and 82 cabins, many winterized, are popular with campers.
Information about New York State Parks is maintained by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic and is divided into eleven regions. Click on a region to view more information about it. Camping reservations for all New York State campgrounds can be made by visiting www.newyorkstateparks.com or by calling 1-800-456-CAMP.
Take a New York "Staycation!"
Fulfilling their promise to keep parks open for New York’s families, the Senate Majority reached an agreement for full restoration of parks funding to keep parks and historic sites open throughout the 2010-2011 fiscal year.
Over three months ago, the Senate Majority passed a budget resolution restoring $11 million for parks operations to prevent the closure of 57 State Parks and reduced operations at an additional 22 State Parks. Last month, a three-way agreement was reached with the Executive and Assembly on legislation to approve restorations called for by the Senate Majority. Restorations were also approved to Zoos, Botanic Gardens, Aquaria, and DEC campgrounds.
On May 28th, the Senate Majority passed a bill funding these State Parks all over New York. Because of this package, New York Families can enjoy a "Staycation" right here in the Empire State. The Senate Majority knows that not only do these parks provide places for New York's families to enjoy themselves, but they also create jobs and strengthen our communities.
State budget shortfalls threatened many of our state parks with closure, but the Senate acted quickly to keep our parks open for the millions of New Yorkers and out-of-state visitors who will be visiting them this summer. Had we allowed our parks to be shut, the people of our state would have been deprived of one of our greatest natural resources, and the state would have lost significant revenue. The entire New York metropolitan area would have suffered as a result.
The use of parks for recreational activities generates $1.9 billion in revenue, five times the agency’s total budget. Park closures would have a devastating effect on small businesses, restaurants, and other economic engines in communities dependent on tourism revenue generated by state parks.
Economic impact of our State Parks:
Allegany Region – 1.9 million visitors, 860 jobs created and $62 million in related sales and output generated by Allegany, Lake Erie, Long Point and Midway state parks.
Capital/Saratoga Region – 3.3 million visitors, 2,929 jobs created and $249 million in related sales and output generated at Saratoga Spa, Thatcher, Grafton Lakes and Moreau Lake state parks, to name just a few.
Central Region – 2.3 million visitors, 1,620 jobs created and $134 million in related sales and output generated by Glimmerglass, Green Lakes, Verona Beach, and Chenango Valley state parks, to name just a few.
Finger Lakes Region – 3 million visitors, 1,776 jobs created and $141 million in related sales and output generated by Buttermilk Falls, Watkins Glen, Seneca Lake and Keuka Lake state parks, to name just a few.
Genesee Region – 1.2 million visitors, 675 jobs created and $58 million in related sales and output generated by Letchworth, Darien Lakes, Silver Lake and Hamlin Beach state parks, to name just a few.
Long Island Region – 19.9 million visitors, 3,992 jobs created and $410 million in related sales and output generated by Jones Beach, Robert Moses, Montauk Point and Caleb Smith state parks, to name just a few.
New York City – 4.5 million visitors, 716 jobs created and $61 million in related sales and output generated by Roberto Clemente, Riverbank and Gantry Plaza state parks, to name just a few.
Niagara Frontier Region - 10.3 million visitors, 4,701 jobs created and $569 million related sales and output generated by Niagara Falls, Evangola, Woodlawn Beach and Four Mile Creek state parks, to name just a few.
Palisades Region – 4.4 million visitors, 1,052 jobs created and $94 million in related sales and output generated by Harriman, Minnewaska, Bear Mountain, and Rockland Lake state parks.
Taconic Region – 3.1 million visitors, 957 jobs created and $102 million in related sales and output generated by Fahnestock, Hudson Highlands, Taconic and James Baird state parks, to name just a few.
Thousand Islands Region – 1.7 million visitors, 882 jobs created and $63 million in related sales and output generated by Cumberland Bay, St. Lawrence, Wellesley Island and Westcott Beach state parks, to name just a few.