Tag Archives: state budget

Queens Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Tuesday: Sunny to partly cloudy. High 56. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph. Tuesday night: A few clouds. Low 39. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Samuel Field Y Fundraiser Dinner at Bourbon Street to Support Programs for Children with Autism

The Samuel Field Y invites you to show your support of our programs for children with autism by having dinner at Bourbon Street Cafe on Tuesday, April 1, between 4:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.. A generous portion of your bill will be donated back to the Samuel Field Y and used towards funding for programs for children with autism. Make your reservations today by calling (718) 224-2200. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

New York legislature passes $140 billion budget

The New York Legislature has passed a $140 billion election-year budget that expands pre-kindergarten statewide and provides tax relief to homeowners and corporations. Read more: ABC New York

Students suspensions in city up in 2013: report

Student suspensions in the city’s public schools shot up 26 percent in the latter part of 2013, according to statistics released Monday. Read more: New York Post

Not one home fully rebuilt under city-run Sandy program: officials

New York City politicians and victims of Sandy are attacking a city-run program that’s supposed to rebuild homes destroyed by the storm but that officials admit has yet to complete a single project. Read more: NBC New York

Legislation would transform NYC’s alternate-side parking rules

Alternate side of the street parking is so important to New York City drivers that when you call 311 it’s the first information delivered. Read more: Fox New York

Legislation could mean more speed cameras for NYC, Long Island

If you speed in a school zone, it will likely cost you big in the future. Read more: CBS New York

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Friday: Cloudy with light rain developing this afternoon. High 58. Winds SSW at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 60%. Friday night: Cloudy skies early, followed by partial clearing. Low 43. Winds WSW at 10 to 20 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: An Evening with Groucho

Award-winning actor Frank Ferrante recreates his highly acclaimed portrayal of legendary comedian Groucho Marx at Queens Theatre. The two-act comedy consists of the best Groucho one-liners, anecdotes and songs, such as “Lydia, the Tattooed Lady.” March 29 shows at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., March 30 show at 3 p.m. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Two fatally shot inside Ridgewood home

A man and a woman were shot to death inside a Ridgewood home Thursday night, police said. Read more: The Queens Courier

MTA bus crashes into dump truck

An MTA bus driver rear-ended a dump truck on the 59th Street Ed Koch Bridge Thursday, tying up traffic during rush hour, authorities said. Read more: New York Post

Longer 911 response times bring dismay to pols at City Council

City ambulances are taking nine and a half minutes to get to the scene of life-threatening emergencies, new data show. Read more: New York Daily News

Sources: State lawmakers reach deal with demands on city for charter schools

The battle between Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo over charter schools has led to a tentative deal on a reform package from state lawmakers, sources told CBS 2 News. Read more: CBS New York

Poll: More Catholics say church is in touch since Pope Francis

Catholics appear to be feeling more of a connection to the church since the beginning of Pope Francis’ papacy, according to a new CBS News poll. Read more: CBS New York

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Thursday: Sunshine early followed by cloudy skies this afternoon. High 42. Winds WSW at 10 to 15 mph. Thursday night Cloudy skies this evening will become partly cloudy after midnight. Low 36. Winds SSW at 10 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Live Music Thursdays at Rest-au-Rant

Join Matt Turk and Gary Schreiner to listen to live music and enjoy some delicious food at the same time at Rest-au-Rant on 35th Avenue. Free. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Homeland Security to cut NYPD bomb detection funding after Obama says NYC nuclear blast bigger concern than Russia

The NYPD may be forced to make do as the Department of Homeland Security announces massive budget cuts to its bomb detection program. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Federal government proposes new safety standards for train doors

The government Tuesday proposed new safety standards for railroad train doors partly due to accidents in New York and New Jersey, one of them deadly. Read more: New York Daily News

Deal close on $142B state budget

Legislative leaders Wednesday were nearing a deal on the $142 billion state budget that would include funding for Mayor de Blasio’s ambitious expansion of pre-kindergarten classes in New York City. Read more: New York Post

Cuomo: I will help de Blasio fix homeless problem

Gov. Cuomo vowed Wednesday to reach a deal with Mayor de Blasio that would let the city use state funds to move more homeless New Yorkers from shelters into apartments. Read more: New York Post

Giuliani slams de Blasio, says he has ‘real disagreements’ with mayor’s policy

Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani slammed Mayor Bill de Blasio Wednesday, saying he has some “real disagreements” with the man now occupying his former desk at City Hall. Read more: CBS New York

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Tuesday: Cloudy. High around 40. Winds SSE at 10 to 15 mph. Tuesday night: Periods of light snow. Low 31. Winds NNE at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of snow 50%. Snow accumulations less than one inch.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Jim Campbell: Rhythms of Perception

The San-Francisco-based artist Jim Campbell, best known for his evocative low resolution works, is the subject of a major solo exhibition at the Museum of the Moving Image, spanning his 30-year career and featuring over 20 installations. The works range from early experimental film, interactive works, and low-resolution videos to large-scale sculptural installations. An innovator in the use of technology, Campbell integrates and manipulates computers and custom electronics into visually arresting artworks. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Homeless man found dead on tracks of Queens subway station

A homeless man was found dead on the tracks of a Queens subway station early Tuesday, police said. Read more: New York Daily News

Cuomo, lawmakers negotiate on pre-k, property tax relief for state budget

New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders negotiated over property tax relief, charter schools and prekindergarten funding Monday – with a budget deadline looming in a week. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Unsanctioned subway buskers, vendors feel NYPD’s wrath

The NYPD is putting the heat on churro sellers, subway acrobats, and other underground peddlers and panhandlers. Read more: New York Post

Majority of New York voters oppose having DREAM Act in state budget: poll

A new Siena College poll is a nightmare for DREAM Act supporters. Read more: New York Daily News 

9/11 Memorial Museum to open in May

The long-awaited museum dedicated to the victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks will open to the public at the World Trade Center site on May 21, officials announced Monday. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Sun and clouds mixed. High 28. Winds NW at 20 to 30 mph. Thursday night: Clear skies. Low 19. Winds WNW at 20 to 30 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Latin Dance Classes

Dance instruction at the Queens Theatre for all ages and all levels with renowned instructor Paul Ru Bao of Farrington Ballroom Dance School. After an hour lesson there is an hour of open dance. $10 single class/$45 for five classes. Skip the class and join open dance at 8 pm for $5. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Report: Homelessness on the rise in NYC

According to a new study, a record number of people stayed overnight at New York City homeless shelters in January. Read more: CBS New York/AP

East Harlem explosion, collapse leaves 6 dead, 69 hurt

Federal investigators are on the scene of an explosion and two building collapses at 116th Street and Park Avenue in East Harlem, while rescue crews search for those still missing. Read more: ABC New York

De Blasio wants judge to toss cop union challenge to profiling law

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the police unions’ legal challenge to a law making it easier to sue cops for racial profiling is destined for failure — and asked a Manhattan judge to toss the case. Read more: New York Post

State senate makes bid to undo anti-charter school moves

The state Senate will propose sweeping measures in its budget bill to undo Mayor de Blasio’s ­moves against charter schools, sources familiar with the plan said. Read more: New York Post

Teachers fleeing city schools to the suburbs is growing: union

Teachers are fleeing to the suburbs in one of the worst “brain drains” in the history of city schools, union president Michael Mulgrew said Wednesday. Read more: New York Daily News

 

State passes budget ahead of deadline


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Governor Cuomo's Flickr

Lawmakers in Albany, for the third straight year, passed an on-time budget last night when the Assembly approved the 2013-14 fiscal plan.

Governor Andrew Cuomo in a video to New Yorkers touted its early approval as a sign that New York was on its way back after years of dysfunction.

“My friends, it is springtime and things long dormant show new life and rebirth,” he said. “That’s how I feel about our great state. New York is coming back. New York is rising and we are building on our strengths.”

The budget was approved well ahead of the April 1 deadline, which is the start on the 2013-14 Fiscal Year. In past years, the budget was often weeks, if not months, behind schedule.

Senators approved the budget during a late night session that carried into Wednesday morning. After a day’s worth of debates, the Assembly voted to approve the budget just before midnight Thursday.

Middle class families will get their second year of tax cuts, Cuomo said. This, along with public-private partnerships, is part of New York’s low-tax, business friendly initiatives, he added.

“Not since Jackie Robinson played for the Brooklyn Dodgers have taxes in this state been so low,” he said.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Partly cloudy with rain showers in the afternoon. High of 52. Winds from the NNW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 20%. Friday night: Partly cloudy. Low of 37. Winds from the NNW at 5 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Disco Inferno II

Due to popular demand, Disco Inferno is back on Friday, March 29. Resorts World will boogie down memory lane with a live concert by Tavares, Bonnie Pointer, Cory Daye and Disco Unlimited. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

New York State Assembly passes $141.3 billion budget for 2013-14

The Assembly on Thursday gave final passage to a $141.3 billion state budget. Read more: New York Daily News

Deal reached on paid sick leave in NYC

New York City legislators, labor advocates and business leaders have struck a deal on the hotly contested issue of paid sick leave. Read more:: Fox New York/AP

Mets: Johan might miss 2013 season

Mets starter Johan Santana could miss the entire 2013 because of a re-tear in his left shoulder, General Manager Sandy Alderson announced Thursday during a conference call. Read more: The Queens Courier

Block-watch programs back in vogue as NYPD headcount shrinks

A group of concerned western Queens residents want to make sure the bad old days of crime don’t ever come back. Read more: New York Daily News

Mayors Against Illegal Guns out with new ad featuring Newtown families

Events took place around the nation Thursday as participants demand federal gun safety measures be enacted. Read more: CBS New York

Hundreds rally against proposed cuts to after-school programs

Hundreds of children rallied outside City Hall Thursday to urge Mayor Michael Bloomberg not to go through with cuts to after-school programs. Read more: NY1

North Korea readies rockets after U.S. show of force

North Korea put its missile units on standby on Friday to attack U.S. military bases in South Korea and the Pacific, after the United States flew two nuclear-capable stealth bombers over the Korean peninsula in a rare show of force. Read more: Reuters

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday; Mostly cloudy with a chance of rain. High of 48. Winds from the NNW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 20%. Thursday night: Partly cloudy. Low of 39. Winds from the NNW at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Devil Science Theater 3000

Devil Science Theater 3000 at the Laughing Devil Comedy Club is an interactive event where the audience plays drinking games and makes fun of terrible movies while being egged on by professional comedians in the crowd! No drink minimum! Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Locals vow to fight Astoria bikini bar’s liquor license application

An Astoria bikini bar that local leaders fear will turn into a strip joint is facing an uphill battle for a liquor license. Read more: New York Daily News

Critics: N.Y. State lawmakers have quietly revived unpopular taxes to build budget

Good-government groups slammed the New York State Legislature on Wednesday for what one senator called “vampire voting” — dead-of-night votes to revive taxes that were supposed to die — to build much of the new $135 billion budget. Read more: CBS New York

New chief of NYPD named

The New York Police Department is getting a new chief. Read more: Fox New York

Elevator in Queens building broken for months

Residents of a Queens apartment building are frustrated. Read more: ABC New York

NYC woman at center of DOMA case hopeful outcome is ‘going to be good’

Concluding two days of intense debate, the U.S. Supreme Court signaled Wednesday it could give a boost to same-sex marriage by striking down the federal law that denies legally married gay spouses a wide range of benefits offered to other couples. Read more: CBSNewYork/AP

Obama says immigration reform bill could pass by summer

President Barack Obama pressed for swift action on a sweeping immigration bill Wednesday, saying last-minute obstacles are “resolvable” and predicting Congress could pass historic legislation by the end of the summer. Read more: ABC New York/AP

State Senate approves budget


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Governor Cuomo's Flickr

It may be on time.

After Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders reached an agreement last week for  a tentative 2013-14 state budget, the Senate approved all bills in the budget during a late night session Tuesday. It will go to the Assembly next for approval.

Tax cuts and enhanced education are some of the highlighted outlines of the bill, released by Cuomo’s office upon the agreement.

The budget includes gradually raising the minimum wage from its current $7.25/hour to $9/hour by 2015. Wages would go up to $8/hour by the end of this year under the plan. It would also cut taxes for middle class families and small businesses.

If a family makes anywhere from $40,000 to $300,000, it will be eligible for a $350 child tax credit for three years, which would start in 2014, according to Cuomo’s office. The small business cut would give almost $800 million in tax eases to merchants statewide.

Workforce training, on a related note, would help fill an estimated 210,000 unfilled jobs in New York.
Expanded Pre-K programs and a bar exam style test for teachers would also be covered under the budget, and would reward teachers who get high performance ratings.

If approved by the April 1 deadline, this would be Cuomo’s third straight on-time budget since coming into office two years ago.

“This budget symbolizes the tremendous progress that has been made in Albany and demonstrates that the new New York government is once again working for the people of this state,” Cuomo said in a statement.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Partly cloudy with rain showers. High of 48. Winds from the NNW at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 30%. Tuesday night: Partly cloudy in the evening, then clear. Low of 36. Winds from the NW at 5 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Ashley Garrett – Slate House

Acumen Project Space is proud to present Ashley Garrett’s solo exhibition Slate House. Garrett’s new body of work explores uncanny qualities in common household objects. Growing up in a small rural town in Northeastern Pennsylvania, a slate mining town with its now silenced quarry holes and obsolete tools, her work is infused with a sense of still contemplation and memory. These paintings and drawings reflect that stillness and weight and objects take on a totemic-like power when pressured through Garrett’s imagination. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm. Exhibition ends April 7. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Far Rockaway residents and officials call Verizon tone deaf to prolonged phone outage

A group of Rockaway residents without phone service since Superstorm Sandy say the only open line of communication has been the monthly bills. Read more: New York Daily News

Vulcan Society wants FDNY EMT fired following series of ‘racist’ tweets

A veteran of the FDNY has been suspended and the association representing black emergency medical technicians and firefighters says he should be fired. Read more: CBS New York

NY cuts cancer programs in state budget

New York is cutting funding for cancer screenings for the uninsured along with programs to curb teen smoking in a state budget that expands spending to help the Buffalo Bills and Hollywood. Read more: NBC New York

Poll strike at drones

Nearly 1 in 5 Americans — 79 percent — oppose drone strikes on US soil, but they are much more accepting of doing it abroad, a Gallup poll released yesterday found. Read more: New York Post

Italy high court overturns Amanda Knox acquittal

Italy’s highest criminal court on Tuesday overturned Amanda Knox’s acquittal in the slaying of her British roommate and ordered a new trial, prolonging a case that has become a cause celebre in the United States. Read more: ABC New York/AP

Supreme Court takes up gay marriage

The Supreme Court is wading into the fight over same-sex marriage at a time when public opinion is shifting rapidly in favor of permitting gay and lesbian couples to wed, but 40 states don’t allow it. Read more: Fox New York/AP

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Overcast with rain. High of 41. Windy. Winds from the NE at 20 to 25 mph with gusts to 40 mph. Chance of rain 80% with rainfall amounts near 0.2 in. possible. Monday night: Overcast with snow, then a chance of snow after midnight. Low of 34F with a windchill as low as 27. Breezy. Winds from the North at 10 to 20 mph with gusts to 30 mph. Chance of snow 70% with accumulations up to 2 in. possible.

EVENT OF THE DAY: BubbleMania 

From March 25 to March 31, at the New York Hall of Science, enjoy the humor and spectacular science of comic bubble-ologist Casey Carle, who has been featured on The Science Channel. See how science can turn the ordinary soap bubble into something extraordinary. Tickets will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of the show. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Spring storm heads towards New Jersey, Long Island

A spring storm that buried parts of the midwest in snow is now dropping a sloppy mix on part of our area. Read more: ABC New York

N.Y. State Senate Holds Sunday Session To Advance Budget Bill

New York state lawmakers were expected Sunday to take much of the week to pass the $135 billion budget they negotiated with Gov. Andrew Cuomo. CBSNewYork/AP

LIRR resumes normal service after derailment, but broken rail suspends branch

The Long Island Rail Road has resumed normal service Monday after a week of disruptions due to a derailed freight train and a broken rail that suspended service on the Port Washington branch. Read more: ABC New York

Hundreds rally for gay rights at Washington Square Park

Elected officials joined hundreds of demonstrators in Greenwich Village on Sunday afternoon for a march and rally for gay marriage rights. Read more: CBS New York

Ellis Island Museum not likely to reopen in 2013

The National Park Service says the Ellis Island Immigration Museum “will not likely be open in 2013″ as damage from Hurricane Sandy is repaired. Read more: NBC New York

NY Mayor Bloomberg predicts success for expanded gun checks

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg predicted on Sunday that pressure from the American public would eventually force the Congress to expand background checks for gun buyers, even though the measure faces an uncertain fate in the Senate. Read more: Reuters 

Cuomo, state lawmakers reach budget deal


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Governor Cuomo's Office

Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature have reached a deal for the 2013-2014 budget and expect to pass it before the April 1 deadline.

“This budget agreement puts New York on track to have the third consecutive on-time, balanced budget that holds increases in spending under two percent, while investing in our economy to create jobs and cutting taxes for middle class families and small businesses. This budget symbolizes the tremendous progress that has been made in Albany and demonstrates that the new New York government is once again working for the people of this state,” Cuomo said.

In a release, the governor outlined the agreement, which includes a new $350 tax credit for  middle class families and an increase in the minimum wage to $9 per hour:

  • A Balanced, On-time Budget that Invests in Creating Jobs and Cuts Taxes: The Budget closes a $1.3 billion gap with no new taxes or fees. New York State has not had three consecutive on-time or early budgets since 1984 and has not had a budget on track to pass this far before the April 1 deadline since 1976.
  • Cutting Taxes for Middle Class Families: Recognizing that New York’s taxpayers have been overtaxed for too long, the Budget includes $1.125 billion in new tax cuts to middle class families over three years. Families with incomes between $40,000 and $300,000 will be eligible to receive a new child tax credit of $350 per year for three years, beginning in 2014.
  • Tax Cuts for Small Businesses: To provide tax relief to New York’s job creators, the Budget includes nearly $800 million in tax relief for New York businesses over three years. With this tax relief, the Budget recognizes that cutting taxes sends a positive sign to the private sector that New York is pro-business and helps reverse New York’s longstanding reputation as the tax capital of the nation.
  • Hiring Tax Credits: To help New York’s returning soldiers and young people find work, the Budget includes a permanent tax credit for the hiring of Veterans, and $181 million in tax credits over three years for businesses that hire youth.
  • Reducing Costs and Red Tape for Businesses: To reduce the crushing burden of unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation, the Budget modernizes and simplifies both systems to provide employers $1.3 billion in savings without affecting workers’ benefits.
  • Investing in the Economy of Tomorrow: The Budget provides the initial funding to launch the Innovation Hot Spots program that will create or designate ten high-tech innovation incubators at locations affiliated with higher education institutions to encourage private-sector growth; a $50 million Innovation Venture Capital Fund that will provide critical seed and early-stage funding to incentivize new business formation and growth in New York State and facilitate the transition from ideas and research to marketable products.
  • Workforce Training for Job Openings: New York’s workforce training is from a different era and a generic job training program does not fit today’s economy. The Budget capitalizes on the opportunity of an estimated 210,000 unfilled jobs in the state by including $5 million for the Next Generation Job Linkage Program that works with employers to: identify the job; define the skill; and provide the training for it.
  • Protecting the Environment and Creating Green Jobs: The Budget increases support for the Environmental Protection Fund and the Cleaner, Greener Communities program, to launch new projects across the state that both create green jobs and protect New York’s natural environment.
  • Building on the Success of the Regional Councils: The Budget includes a third round of the Regional Economic Development Councils including $150 million in new funding and $70 million in tax credits.
  • Promoting Upstate Tourism and Agriculture through Market NY: To bolster tourism and better market NY-made foods and produce, the Budget launches the Market NY initiative.
  • SUNY and CUNY Campuses Driving Private Sector Job Creation: The Budget includes a third round of the SUNY 2020 program and launches the CUNY 2020 program to provide competitive grants for projects that connect economic development and academic excellence. ($110 million)
  • Increasing Funding for Education: The Budget reflects New York State’s focus on creating a world-class education system that will fully prepare all of New York’s students to compete in the 21st Century economy. To accomplish the goal, the Budget includes an increase of nearly $1 billion in education aid.
  • Pre-kindergarten Program Expansion: Recognizing that quality early education is critical for long-term success and that children who attend full-day pre-k often outperform their peers, the Budget provides additional investments in pre-kindergarten with an emphasis on high quality, full-day pre-k. Funding is targeted toward higher need students in lower wealth school districts via a competitive process. ($25 million)
  • State Increases Tied to Teacher Evaluations: To maintain New York State’s leadership in holding teachers accountable for student achievement, the Budget continues to tie increases in funding for education to the implementation of a teacher evaluation system. No teacher evaluations means no state increase.
  • Extended Learning Time: Our existing education calendar is still based on an agrarian system and the United States lags behind other nations in terms of how much time students spend in the classroom. In order to provide increased learning opportunities, the Budget supports high-quality extended school day or extended school year programs, with academically enriched programming. Schools that apply to participate in the program must agree to expand learning time by 25 percent. The state will cover the full cost of expanding learning time for students. ($20 million)
  • Community Schools: Recognizing that a school is not just a “school” in distressed communities and that the demands of schools in wealthier districts are different than demands in lowest wealth districts, the Budget supports an innovative program designed to transform schools into community hubs that integrate social, health and other services, as well as after-school programming to support students and their families. ($15 million)
  • Reward High-Performing Teachers: To improve results and incentive high-performance, the Budget implements a program that will offer $15,000 in annual stipends for four years to the most effective teachers beginning with math and science teachers. ($11 million)
  • Early College High School Programs: To improve college access and success, the Budget provides new state funding to expand Early College High School programs. ($4 million)
  • Bar Exam for Teachers: To ensure the best and brightest are teaching our children, the State Education Department will increase the standards for teacher certification to require passage of a “bar exam,” in addition to longer, more intensive and high-quality student-teaching experience in a school setting.
  • Raises the Minimum Wage: Recognizing that New York’s minimum wage is unlivable and that 19 other states have higher minimum wages than New York, the Budget raises the minimum wage from $7.25/hour to $9.00/hour over three years, beginning with $8.00 by the end of 2013, $8.75 by the end of 2014, and $9.00 by the end of 2015.
  • Lowering and Phasing Out the 18-a Utility Assessment: The Temporary Utility Assessment on electric, gas, water and steam utilities would be phased out over three years beginning in 2014-15.
  • Pension Stabilization Program: The Budget includes a Pension Stabilization Program that has been agreed to by the State Comptroller’s Office for local governments to access short term relief as the savings of Tier VI begin to take effect.
  • Public Service Commission Reform: The Budget includes a number of reforms that were recommended by the Moreland Commission to give the Public Service Commission greater authority over the state’s utilities.

 

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Cross Bay Bridge rebate reinstated, but not right away


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Cross Bay Bridgew

Rockaway residents relishing in the relief of a reinstated, ratified rebate program are now holding their breath.

The Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge Residency Rebate Program recently passed the state budget, said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder, meaning Rockaway and Broad Channel residents will now be reimbursed for their travels across the bridge.

With an E-Z Pass, they currently pay $1.19 each time they drive along the Cross Bay Bridge for up to two trips a day. While additional crossings are free afterward, local elected officials and residents have long deemed the toll a problem.

Goldfeder said the toll forced Broad Channel and Rockaway residents to reach into their pockets just to go to and from work, patronize local businesses, bring their children to and from school and take care of daily errands.

The toll — the only intra-borough one in the city — was free for residents of Broad Channel and the Rockaways for 12 years, but was reinstated by the MTA in 2010.

The rebate, local leaders said, would stimulate more activity and revenue between Rockaway and Broad Channel businesses, while saving residents between $800 and $1,500 a year.

“I made a pledge before taking office that I would work to eliminate the Cross Bay Bridge Toll,” Goldfeder said. “Today, I have made good on that pledge and have secured a huge victory for the hardworking families and businesses of the Rockaways and Broad Channel. The return of this important rebate program is a step in the right direction towards the complete elimination of this inherently unfair tax. This toll has been a burden for the residents and businesses of our community for far too long.”

Under the provisions of the bill, the discount program was expected to go into immediate effect once the budget was signed at the end of March. However, according to the MTA, residents may not see benefits until July 1 at the latest.

“It’s fully funded. The MTA, as of April 1, has the money necessary to give local residents a rebate for the toll,” Goldfeder said. “I’m urging them, and I have been urging them, to implement it as soon as possible at no cost to them. It’s in the state budget.”

An MTA spokesperson said the money first has to be transferred from the state to the MTA before it goes from the MTA to Bridges and Tunnels. In the meantime, the representative said, all E-Z Pass tags have to be reprogrammed, which may take a couple of months in total.

“As far as we’re concerned, all they have to do is electronically press a button. They’re playing games. The money is there. Do what you’re supposed to do. Don’t make us wait any longer,” said Democratic Assembly District Leader Lew Simon.

Simon said residents of the peninsula are prepared to “march across the Cross Bay Bridge in thousands” in order to send a “clear message” to the MTA.

“We’re not going to take it,” he said. “The money is in the budget, the budget should start right away — not by July 1.”

Cuomo, Legislature reach deal on balanced, on-time state budget


| brennison@queenscourier.com

GovBudgetSpeechw

For the second straight year, state politicians have reached an agreement on an on-time balanced budget.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the $132.6 billion budget in a joint statement with Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on Tuesday, March 27.

“For the second straight year, New York State has worked and created a balanced budget based on fiscal responsibility, job creation, government efficiency and the premise that we must invest in our communities,” Cuomo said.

This is the second consecutive year with an overall cut in spending, the first time this has happened in the last 30 year, the governor’s office said.

The Legislature is expected to pass the budget by Friday, two days before the state’s fiscal year begins on Sunday, April 1.

Skelos said that Albany has “turned the corner” and “puts [the Legislature] in a position to deliver another early budget that controls spending and taxes.”

Last year’s budget was the first on-time spending plan since 2006.

“This budget includes much needed increases in education spending, including an increase in base aid for community colleges for the first time in five years, and vital restorations to programs that protect our state’s neediest citizens,” said Silver.

The budget also established the New York Works Task Force which will “invest billions of dollars to rebuild the state’s roads, bridges, parks and other infrastructure and create tens of thousands of jobs.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg hailed the budget as the best for the city in a decade.

“Finally, an almost unprecedented accomplishment: it appears that the budget includes no new unfunded mandates for New York City. We are hopeful this commitment to fiscal responsibility continues throughout the rest of the legislative session,” the mayor said.

Bloomberg also praised Cuomo’s “bold leadership in “making Albany work for the people – and for the City of New York.”

Other budget highlights include:

- Maintaining a 2 percent growth in year to year state spending.

- An $805 million increase in education spending to approximately $20.4 billion.

- A 5 percent increase in June to the welfare grant followed by another 5 percent in October.

- An additional $31.3 million in support for community colleges.

- Providing $14.3 million for urban and rural community-based organizations that help create home ownership opportunities and assist with the development and management of affordable rental housing.

- Supplying $9 million for the continuation of mortgage foreclosure counseling services.