March 31, 2014

“Tonight, the New York State Senate passed the State Budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. While the budget contained many sound progressive policies supported by the Senate Democratic Conference, such as funding for Universal Pre-K, instituting a 30% rent cap for low-income New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS, an increase to the SCRIE eligibility threshold to provide relief for seniors, and an increase in funding for rape crisis centers, it also contained several items that I could not support.

I voted against the education bill due to the provisions concerning the co-locations of charter schools in New York City, which would extend an unprecedented obligation upon the City to cover the cost for facilities of any new or expanded charter and create an even more inequitable education system in NYC. This bill was written with the intention to dilute local control over co-location decisions and deny parents and communities input.

I also voted against a bill that defunded the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption without public input, just months after the Commission issued a Preliminary Report finding a pay-to-play political culture in Albany. Dismantling the Moreland Commission while it is in the midst of ongoing investigations for half-measures that fall short of the Commission’s recommendations for comprehensive and systemic reform is a violation of the public trust.

I was also disappointed that the final budget did not include a comprehensive plan for public financing of statewide elections. Instead, the budget offered an unworkable pilot program limited only to this year’s State Comptroller election that good government groups say is “designed to fail.” I hope we will see the Senate swiftly act to bring a comprehensive ethics and public campaign finance reform package to the floor to ensure fair and equitable elections in the state of New York. Also missing in the budget were components of the Vision Zero traffic initiative that would bring “home rule” to NYC and the DREAM Act, which would give thousands of undocumented public school students in New York the opportunity to attend college.”