Budget season in Albany just wrapped up, and this year highlighted the impact that community members getting involved and speaking out can have.
The budget brought some good, some bad, and, unfortunately, a (big) ugly:
- Together, we stopped $17 + million in proposed senior center funding cuts with the help of nearly 900 community members, and we prevented funding gaps that could have forced some Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs) to close.
- New York now joins 48 other states with criminal justice systems that treat 16 and 17 year-olds more fairly, with big progress on Raise the Age.
- Funding for schools and social services is on the way, including: hundreds of millions for NYC public education, funding for evidence-based maternal home visiting Nurse Family Partnership(which pairs first-time moms with nurse home visitors), and funding for Settlement Houses, which provide crucial cradle to old-age services in our communities.
- My bill Kalief's Law, which would fix New York's speedy trial crisis and restore New Yorkers' right to a speedy trial, was blocked. The push continues to fix parts of the system that breed injustice far too often.
- The budget failed to allow design-build for the BQE reconstruction, a failure that could add years to this difficult project.
- A flawed 421a tax abatement for luxury housing, with a provision that makes it easier to build out-of-scale development at the LICH site with tax abatements.
The (Big) Ugly:
- Ethics, ethics, ethics! Again, the Senate Majority blocked real ethics reforms, including my bill to close the LLC Loophole, which allows nearly unlimited, virtually anonymous corporate dollars to drown out the voice of everyday New Yorkers. Year after year, indictment after indictment, conviction after conviction, the Senate Majority has refused to take action.
- The budget was again negotiated without appropriate transparency or opportunity for public engagement -- a wacky, dysfunctional process all around, leaving seemingly billions of questions about the budget's billions.
Whether you're happy with what you're seeing coming out of Albany (and Washington), or, like many of us, concerned, I hope you'll join my annual Community Convention on Sunday, April 23rd to make the state (and national) fight local. Don't forget to RSVP, and please feel free to contact my office anytime at 212-298-5565, 718-875-1517, or email@example.com.