Thursday, January 30, 2014

Assemblyman Goldfeder: Gov. Cuomo's Budget Leaves "Queens Better Positioned To Prepare for Future Storms"

Gov. Cuomo’s budget proposal landed him praise in Queens, with borough leaders calling on him to follow through with his emphasis on the environment – specifically projects to help prevent the kind of havoc Sandy wreaked on the area – and education. Photo courtesy NYS Governor’s Office

Some of the borough’s biggest players said they welcomed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget for the coming year, particularly embracing his emphasis on key issues like the environment and education.
Cuomo rolled out the budget earlier this month, shining a light on previous years’ fiscal success while outlining an agenda that included sweeping environmental reforms as well as a state-funded universal prekindergarten program.
But it was ultimately the governor’s emphasis on the environment that left state Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway) most optimistic, the legislator said. Goldfeder said he looked forward to helping pass another on-time budget while stressing the importance of his district, which was left battered in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
The southern Queens Assemblyman applauded Cuomo’s commitments of $15 million towards a state-of-the-art weather detection system and an additional $5.5 million towards tightening up the electrical grid on nearby Long Island.
“I’m happy about a lot of things he said, but the governor is also taking a positive step towards making our city and state a lot more resilient,” Goldfeder said. “We’ll be better positioned to prepare for any future storms.”
Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Ridgewood) said her biggest budget takeaway came from the governor’s emphasis on education – an issue he rolled out as one of his top priorities in his State of the State address.
“I commend Governor Cuomo for putting together a budget that calls for implementing full day pre-k statewide,” Nolan said. “As the chair of the Assembly Education Committee and a mother of public school parent, I will continue to push for an increase of $1.9 billion in school aid to ensure that our school districts around the state are adequately funded.”
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz also said she was impressed by the governor’s budgetary agenda, citing some of the issues most important to the borough she represents.
“Behind Governor Cuomo’s leadership, our state is making key investments for the people of New York and Queens – like funding innovation at SUNY and CUNY schools, investing in affordable housing, and strengthening our airports to be more resilient in the face of an uncertain future,” Katz said. “This year’s budget promises to build on our recent successes while maintaining our fiscal health in order to provide for the people of this great state into the future.”
But the governor’s budget did not leave all of the city’s reps in awe.  City Comptroller Scott Stringer was critical of the numbers Cuomo had crunched and said while there were certainly good signs of economic progress, the governor was leaving the city stranded.
“Despite this encouraging growth, the budgetary path we are on is still not sustainable – in part because of a growing imbalance of payments between the city and the state,” Stringer said. “In fiscal year 2009, the state financed 20 percent of the city’s expense budget.  By last fiscal year, that number had shrunk closer to 15 percent. In short, New York City sends about $5 billion more in tax receipts to Albany every year than it gets back in revenue.”
Stringer said the city’s homeless shelters were one indicator of neglect because of the shear capacity of them, which he described as “bursting at the seams.” He said the state should trust the city with its investments, as it “remains a magnet for business from across the country and the world.”
By Phil Corso

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