GOVERNOR CUOMO’S STATE OF THE STATE AGENDA

OUTLINES 2019 JUSTICE AGENDA: THE TIME IS NOW

WPCNR ALBANY ROUNDS. From the Governor’s Press Office. January 16, 2019:

In 9th State of the State Address, Governor Advances Agenda to Ensure the Promise of Full, True Justice for All

Governor Cuomo: “On our seal it says the Great State of New York. You know why New York is great? Because New York rejects divide and conquer and we believe in unify and grow. New York is great because we believe in community and mutuality and we believe the greatest feast has the most number of people at the table. We are great because we believe the strongest four-letter word is still love. Not hate. New York loves you and what makes us great is we have no tolerance for hate in our state. That’s New York. And that’s who we are. And that’s our message to this nation.

While Federal Government’s Dysfunction and Shutdown Persists, Governor Cuomo Leads the Way Forward on Every Major Issue Affecting New Yorkers

FY 2020 Executive Budget Protects New Yorkers from Washington’s Devastating Federal Attacks, Strengthens the Middle Class, Safeguards the Environment, Provides Unprecedented Investments in Education, Implements Congestion Pricing, Legalizes Adult Cannabis Use, Protects the Health of Our Communities and Drives Our Infrastructure Forward

2019 State of the State Book Available Here

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today delivered his 2019 State of the State Address. The Governor’s 2019 Justice Agenda ensures the promise of full, true justice for all. While the federal government’s dysfunction and shutdown persists, the Governor is leading the way forward. The Justice Agenda protects New Yorkers from Washington’s devastating federal attacks, strengthens the middle class, safeguards the environment, improves the health of our communities and invests in our infrastructure for the 21st century. For the ninth consecutive year, the Budget is balanced and holds spending growth below two percent. In December, in the face of the nation’s biggest social crisis, and with the federal government seeking to undo generations of progress, Governor Cuomo laid out his legislative agenda to enable the Legislature to commence action on these top priorities immediately upon convening. In this State of the State Address, the Governor called on the Legislature to swiftly and immediately act on these priorities in the first 100 days of session.

“In the face of unprecedented challenges on a national level and a federal government at a complete standstill, New York will deliver on the most productive agenda in our history and build on our record of accomplishments,” Governor Cuomo said. “This is a true Justice Agenda that ensures our neediest schools receive an equitable share of funds, advances historic criminal justice reform, safeguards our health care, protects the rights of women in our state from the federal government, and leads the nation in fight against climate change and contaminants in our environment and our water. While extreme conservatives in Washington govern by division and fuel dysfunction, New York State will raise the beacon of progress and take action to make a real difference in people’s lives.”

FY 2020 Executive Budget:

  • The FY 2020 Executive Budget is $175.2 billion on an All Funds basis.
  • State Operating Funds is $102.0 billion, growth of 1.9%
  • Health and Education spending grows at 3.6%, Executive Agencies at 0.8%.

ECONOMIC JUSTICE

Continue the Phase-In of Middle Class Tax Cuts: The Budget supports the phase-in of the middle class tax cuts. Under these reforms, rates will continue to drop to 5.5 percent and 6 percent when the cuts are fully phased in – an up to 20 percent cut in income tax rates for the middle class – and produce a projected $4.2 billion in annual savings for six million filers by 2025. As the new rates phase in, they will be the State’s lowest middle-class tax rates in more than 70 years.

Extend the Millionaire’s Tax: To protect the progress that has been made in enhancing progressivity and ensuring tax fairness for New York’s middle-class, Governor Cuomo is proposing a five-year extension of the current tax rate on millionaires. This will preserve an estimated $4.4 billion annually otherwise unavailable to make vital investments in education and infrastructure to secure New York’s future economic prosperity.

Make Permanent the Highly Successful Property Tax Cap: Governor Cuomo made a first-ever property tax cap a hallmark of his first campaign for Governor and a priority of his administration’s first year. Since the implementation of the tax cap in 2012, growth has averaged approximately 2 percent and the tax cap has produced approximately $25 billion in taxpayers’ savings. The Governor proposes that New York preserve and make permanent the property tax cap, as he has advocated in the past.

Close the Carried Interest Loophole: Because of an egregious loophole in federal law, some of the wealthiest people in the country, including hedge fund managers and private equity investors, are paying lower tax rates on their income than many middle class families. This “carried interest” loophole results in a substantial cost to middle-class New Yorkers, with the State losing about $100 million every year. To ensure that the wealthiest Americans are paying their fair share, Governor Cuomo will take a landmark step to close the carried interest loophole under New York State law and effectively eliminate the benefits of this loophole under the federal tax code.

Fight for the Full Deductibility of State and Local Taxes: Governor Cuomo fought the federal tax bill every step of the way while it was under consideration in Congress. After its passage, New York joined together with three other states to sue the federal government over this illegal and targeted assault. The Governor will continue to fight against this law and the threat that it poses to New York State, and he urges the new Democratic House of Representations stand together and demand that the SALT deduction is fully restored.

Continue Lawsuit Against Federal Government Challenging Unconstitutional Tax Law That Targets New York: Governor Cuomo and Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood filed a lawsuit to protect New York and its taxpayers from Washington’s drastic curtailment of the SALT deduction. The lawsuit argues that the new SALT cap was enacted to target New York and similarly situated states, that it interferes with states’ rights to make their own fiscal decisions, and that it will disproportionately harm taxpayers in these states. The Governor and Attorney General Letitia James will continue in their fight to overturn the law’s unprecedented and unconstitutional limitations on SALT deductibility.

Building 21st Century Infrastructure

Invest an Additional $150 Billion in the Nation’s Largest Infrastructure Program: Governor Cuomo has made an unprecedented commitment to invest $150 billion in infrastructure projects over the next five years. Beginning in FY 2020, these capital projects will rebuild transportation and mass transit systems, drive economic and community development, create new environmental and park facilities, and support our sustainable energy future.

Reduce Traffic Congestion in NYC and Fund the MTA: This year, the Governor will implement congestion pricing to establish a reliable funding stream to transform the transit system and reduce congestion in Manhattan. By charging fees for vehicles to move within the most congested area of New York City and then reinvesting those funds into transit improvements, this plan will combat gridlock and deliver to New York City’s residents and visitors the world-class transit system they deserve. 

Establish Accountability for the MTA: The MTA is a bureaucracy that lacks any accountability. The board of 17 members gives no single person a clear majority of nominees and there are 32 unions representing MTA employees that exert significant political power over the elected officials who appoint the board members. To overhaul this bureaucracy and fix the system, the Governor will work with the Legislature to establish clear authority over the MTA, while continuing to solve the need for dedicated funding and splitting capital funding shortfalls between New York City and New York State. Only with clearly designated authority and adequate funding can the MTA can be overhauled into the efficient and effective transit system that New Yorkers deserve.

Expand Design-Build and Enact Other Efficiencies to Expedite Construction Projects: Governor Cuomo’s $100 billion infrastructure program is the nation’s largest and boldest. Key to the program’s success is the Governor’s visionary decision to deploy the design-build method on complex projects, saving taxpayers time and money by making a single contractor responsible for both a project’s design and its actual construction. To ensure efficiency across State projects, the Executive Budget includes legislation authorizing the use of state-of-the-art methods such as construction manager at-risk and construction manager-build, while expanding design-build to additional agencies.

Continuing New York’s Bottom-Up Economic Development Strategy

Invest $750 million for Round Nine of the Regional Economic Development Councils: In 2011, Governor Cuomo established 10 Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs) to develop long-term regional strategic economic development plans. Since then, the REDCs have awarded $6.1 billion to more than 7,300 projects. This strategy has resulted in 230,000 new or retained jobs in New York. The Executive Budget includes core capital and tax-credit funding that will be combined with a wide range of existing agency programs for a ninth round of REDC awards totaling $750 million.

Invest in Communities Across the State Through the Fourth Downtown Revitalization Initiative: The Downtown Revitalization Initiative is transforming downtown neighborhoods into vibrant communities where the next generation of New Yorkers will want to live, work and raise families. Participating communities are nominated by the State’s ten REDCs based on the downtown’s potential for transformation. Through three rounds of awards, each winning community was awarded $10 million to develop a downtown strategic investment plan and implement key catalytic projects that advance the community’s vision for revitalization. The Executive Budget provides $100 million for the Downtown Revitalization Program Round IV.

Ensuring A Quality Education for All

Require Districts to Distribute State Aid in a More Equitable Manner to Their Neediest Schools: Although the state distributes 70 percent of its funding to the neediest districts, the districts do not always distribute funding to their schools in an equitable manner. In fact, some school districts have schools with significantly higher needs receiving less than the average school in the district. We must address this problem and therefore Governor Cuomo proposes to require that these school districts devote a portion of their 2019-20 school aid to increase the per-pupil allocation in those high-need schools. This increase in allocation will help ensure that funding intended to help improve educational outcomes for the neediest students reaches those students.

$1 Billion Education Aid Increase: State support for school districts will have increased by $8.1 billion (42 percent) since FY 2012. Over 70 percent of this year’s increase goes to high-need school districts. Foundation Aid is increased by $338 million.

Expand Universal Pre-Kindergarten: The Budget includes an additional $15 million investment in pre-kindergarten to expand high-quality half-day and full-day prekindergarten instruction for three- and four-year-old children in high-need school districts.

Recruit 250 New Teachers in Shortage Areas through the We Teach NY Program: With the goals of diversifying and strengthening the teacher workforce pipeline, Governor Cuomo proposes to invest $3 million in the We Teach NY program, which will strategically recruit 250 new teachers to fill identified needed positions in New York classrooms in 2024.

Expand Master Teacher to High Poverty Schools to Increase Access to Advanced Courses: In 2013, Governor Cuomo launched the New York State Master Teacher Program to strengthen our nation’s STEM education, giving selected educators an annual $15,000 stipend for four years, professional development opportunities and a platform to foster a supportive environment for the next generation of STEM teachers. In order to recruit and retain outstanding educators in the highest poverty schools, the Executive Budget will provide $1.5 million to support 100 new Master Teachers who teach in high-poverty schools with high rates of teacher turnover or high rates of relatively inexperienced teachers.

Protect Student Loan Borrowers: There are approximately 2.8 million student loan borrowers in New York that have tens of billions of dollars in outstanding student loan debt, which is serviced by about 30 student loan servicers. The Governor will advance sweeping protections for student loan borrowers by requiring that companies servicing student loans held by New Yorkers obtain a state license and meet standards consistent with the laws and regulations governing other significant lending products such as mortgages; banning upfront fees; requiring fair contracts and clear and conspicuous disclosures to borrowers; and providing penalties for failing to comply with the law.

Creating Economic Opportunity for Every New Yorker

Launch the $175 Million Workforce Initiative: Governor Cuomo will launch a new Consolidated Funding Application for workforce investments that will support strategic regional efforts that meet businesses’ short-term workforce needs, improve regional talent pipelines, expand apprenticeships, and address the long-term needs of growing industries — with a particular focus on emerging fields with growing demand for jobs like clean energy, health technology, and computer science. These funds will also support efforts to improve the economic security of women, youth, and other populations that face significant barriers to career advancement.

Expand Employer-Driven Training Opportunities by Enhancing the Employee Training Incentive Program: Governor Cuomo proposes to expand the Employee Training Incentive Program to provide more training options to more industries by enabling employers with dedicated training shops to draw on in-house expertise in delivering approved training, and by extending ETIP tax credits to internship opportunities in additional high-tech industries.

Protect Workers from Union-Busting Activity by Codifying EO 183 into Law and Expanding its Protections to Local Governments: New York State has a long and distinguished history of standing by union workers. This year, Governor Cuomo will continue to advance his support for unions by introducing legislation that not only codifies EO 183 into law, but expands its protections to local governments to ensure that more union workers are protected.

Increase Criminal Penalties for Wage Theft: Governor Cuomo will advance legislation to increase criminal penalties for employers who knowingly or intentionally commit wage theft violations to more closely align with other forms of theft.

Ensuring Access to Affordable Housing

Enact Historic Legislation to Strengthen Rent Regulation: This year, the Governor proposes aggressive rent regulation reforms, including ending vacancy decontrol, repealing preferential rent, and limiting building and apartment improvement charges. These changes will preserve the rent regulated housing stock, strengthen tenants’ rights to affordable housing, and ensure New Yorkers safe, quality affordable housing.

Limit Security Deposits to Reduce Housing Barriers: Governor Cuomo will propose legislation to limit security deposits to a maximum of one month’s rent across New York State, making New York’s security deposit limits among the strongest in the nation This law will serve to ensure that burdensome security deposits will no longer serve as a barrier to entry for anyone trying to find a new place to live.

Help Families Build Credit and Holistically Evaluate Credit Scores: In New York State, most landlords conduct background credit checks on potential tenants, which often leads to rejecting applicants with low credit scores or an insufficient credit history. To ensure all New Yorkers have a fair shot of accessing affordable, quality housing, Governor Cuomo will issue regulations prohibiting state-funded housing operators from automatically turning away applicants with poor credit or histories of bankruptcy. Instead, the State will require that all potential tenants and homeowners be holistically evaluated to determine the circumstances behind their credit history and their ability to pay rent on a forward-looking basis.

Enact Source of Income Protections to Support Fair Housing for All: In certain parts of New York State, landlords can reject applicants based on their lawful source of income, disproportionately impacting households that rely on non-wage income or income assistance and those who use vouchers to obtain housing for their families. The Governor will work with the legislature to amend the New York State Human Rights Law to prohibit discrimination based on lawful source of income statewide to ensure that such lawful income is not a blanket barrier to housing, reducing financial instability for New York’s most economically vulnerable individuals.

Combating Poverty

Support ESPRI Communities and Establish ESPRI Representation on REDC Workforce Development Committees: In 2016, Governor Cuomo created the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative (ESPRI) to combat poverty and reduce inequality. ESPRI is an important component of the Governor’s anti-poverty agenda, and this year Governor Cuomo proposes to build on the success of these State and local partnerships to address poverty, supporting more community-based efforts through continued funding of ESPRI. Governor Cuomo will also continue to support efforts by the REDCs and the economic development community to broaden and deepen their commitments to local anti-poverty efforts and he will ensure an ESPRI representative is included on each region’s Workforce Development Committee and involved in the review process for the Governor’s new Workforce Development Initiative.

Reduce Hunger and Food Insecurity: Building on historic investments to combat food insecurity, Governor Cuomo will establish a goal to reduce household food insecurity in New York State by 10 percent by 2024. In order to achieve this goal, Governor Cuomo is directing the following actions: create a food and anti-hunger policy coordinator; simplify access to SNAP for older and disabled adults; enhanced resources and referrals in clinical settings; participate in SNAP online purchasing pilot; and expand food access in Central Brooklyn.

Supporting the Rural and Agricultural Economy

Continue the Revitalization of the Great New York State Fairgrounds: The State Fair drives $100 million a year in economic activity in Central New York and thousands of jobs. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York State has invested more than $120 million dollars in two phases over the last three years to remake the New York State Fairgrounds. To continue the transformation of the State Fairgrounds, the State will make additional renovations and upgrades to enhance user experience. The Governor’s commitment continues to make the fairgrounds a year-round destination.

Fund Key Programs to Support New York’s Farmers: The agricultural industry is full of variability and uncertainty. As a reflection of the Governor’s resolve to support New York’s farmers, this year’s Executive Budget will continue funding the specialized technical assistance, industry promotion, and research investments statewide to reduce farms’ exposure to economic and climate inconsistency.

SOCIAL JUSTICE

Advancing Criminal Justice for All

Bail and Pretrial Detention Reform: Governor Cuomo is advancing legislation that will end cash bail once and for all, significantly reduce the number of people held in jail pretrial, and ensure due process for anyone awaiting trial behind bars. This series of reforms will include a mandate that police issue appearance tickets instead of making arrests in low-level cases, eliminate money as a means of determining freedom, and institute a new procedure whereby a district attorney can move for a hearing to determine whether eligible defendants may be held in jail pretrial, for which the judge must find reasonable cause to believe the individual is a danger to themselves or others.

Improve Transparency in the Discovery Process: As only one of ten states where prosecutors can withhold basic evidence until the day a trial begins, Governor Cuomo’s plan will bring New York’s discovery process into the 21stcentury by requiring both prosecutors and defendants to share all information in their possession well in advance of trial.  Defendants will also be allowed the opportunity to review whatever evidence is in the prosecution’s possession prior to pleading guilty to a crime.

Ensure the Right to a Speedy Trial: Governor Cuomo will introduce legislation that ensures criminal cases no longer drag on without accountability. With this proposal, Governor Cuomo will guarantee that all necessary discovery procedures are completed quickly, and that no New Yorker is unduly held in custody as they await their day in court.

Abolish the Death Penalty: Although the New York Court of Appeals ruled the death penalty unconstitutional in 2004, capital punishment was never fully repealed in statute.  To address this disparity, Governor Cuomo will introduce legislation to permanently strike capital punishment from the law to guarantee that this draconian punishment is never again practiced in the State of New York.

Transform the Use of Solitary Confinement in State Prisons: Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York has dramatically reformed and reduced the use of solitary confinement for people who engage in misconduct within state prisons. The Governor is directing DOCCS to accelerate the momentum of solitary confinement reform by limiting the length of time spent in separation, building dedicated housing units for rehabilitation and integration following a disciplinary sanction, and expanding therapeutic programming to reinforce positive and social behavior.

Establish Compassionate Release: The Governor will establish a process of compassionate release for incarcerated individuals over the age of 55 who have incapacitating medical conditions exacerbated by their age.

Enact a Comprehensive Re-entry Package to Improve Outcomes for Formerly Incarcerated Individuals:Governor Cuomo will enact a four-point plan to ease the burdens placed on individuals who have paid their debt to society and provide them with the opportunities they need to succeed.

Legalizing Adult Use Cannabis

In January 2018, Governor Cuomo directed the Department of Health to launch a multi-agency study to review the potential impact of regulated cannabis in New York. The study, issued last July, concluded that the positive impact of a regulated cannabis program in New York State outweighs the potential negative aspects. Building on extensive outreach and research, Governor Cuomo is proposing the establishment of a regulated cannabis program for adults 21 and over in the FY 2020 budget that protects public health, provides consumer protection, ensures public safety, addresses social justice concerns, and invests tax revenue.  Specifically, the program will: 

  • Reduce impacts of criminalization affecting communities of color.
  • Automatically seal certain cannabis-related criminal records.
  • Implement quality control and consumer protections to safeguard public health.
  • Counties and large cities can opt out.
  • Restrict access to anyone under 21.
  • Generate approximately $300 million in tax revenue and create jobs.

Advancing Reproductive Justice and Women’s Equality

Pass the Reproductive Health Act and Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act and Enshrine Roe v. Wade into the New York State Constitution: Governor Cuomo will work with the legislature to pass the Reproductive Health Act within the first 30 days of the 2019 Legislative Session, codifying the principles of Roe v. Wade into State law. This law will ensure the right of people to make personal health care decisions to protect their health, in addition to their life, and ensure that health care professionals can provide these crucial services without fear of criminal penalty. Upon passage of the RHA, the Governor will advance a concurrent resolution to enshrine the principles of Roe v Wade into the New York State Constitution. Additionally, Governor Cuomo will advance legislation to codify affordable access to contraception, including emergency contraception, into New York State law, by passing the Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act.

Improve Access to In-Vitro Fertilization and Fertility Preservation Coverage: This year, Governor Cuomo will advance legislation to expand access to coverage for IVF, as well as medically-necessary fertility preservation services. This legislation will specifically mandate that large group insurance providers cover IVF and will also require large, small, and individual group insurance providers to cover egg-freezing services for women with certain health conditions, including those undergoing cancer treatment.

Reduce Maternal Mortality and Morbidity and Racial Disparities: Based on recommendations from the Maternal Mortality Taskforce established by Governor Cuomo in 2018, the Governor will advance a series of policies to reduce maternal mortality and racial disparities in New York State, including creating an education and training program to reduce implicit racial bias in health care institutions statewide, expand Community Health Worker programs, enacting legislation to create a statewide Maternal Mortality Review Board, creating a data warehouse to provide near real-time information on maternal mortality and morbidity and to inform targeted quality initiatives, and convening an Expert Workgroup on Postpartum Care to develop recommendations targeting the critical time immediately after birth.

Pass the Equal Rights Amendment: Governor Cuomo will push to pass the Equal Rights Amendment to add sex as a protected class to Section 11 of Article 1 of the New York State Constitution. With this change, Section 11 of Article 1 of the New York State Constitution will read: No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws of this State or any subdivision thereof. No person shall, because of race, color, sex, creed or religion, be subjected to any discrimination in his or her civil rights by any other person or by any firm, corporation or institution, or by the State or any agency or subdivision of the state.

Pass the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act:Governor Cuomo will advance the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act, which will build on Jenna’s Law to include more meaningful sentence reductions and encompass crimes committed not only against, but also at the behest of, abusers. The Act will also permit a small population of currently incarcerated survivors to apply for re-sentencing and earlier release due to their prior victimization.

Eliminate the Statute of Limitations for Rape: While New York removed the statute of limitations for Rape in the First Degree, a five-year statute of limitations remains for Rape in the Second Degree and Rape in the Third Degree. Therefore, in 2019 Governor Cuomo will advance legislation to remove the statute of limitations for Rape in the Second Degree and Third Degree.

Increase Protections Against Harassment in the Workplace: Building on the nation’s most comprehensive sexual harassment package signed into law by Governor Cuomo in 2018, Governor Cuomo will advance legislation to lower the high bar set for employees to hold employers accountable under the New York Human Rights Law for sexual harassment, protect employees’ rights to pursue complaints, and ensure workers know their rights, by requiring all employers to conspicuously post a sexual harassment educational poster in their workplace.

Modernize New York’s Pay Equity Law: Since taking office, Governor Cuomo has fought aggressively to close the gender pay gap in New York. This year, Governor Cuomo will build upon that effort by championing the passage of a salary history ban. In addition, the Governor will advance legislation to expand the definition of “equal pay for equal work” to require equal pay on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, and other protected characteristics, and expand the requirement that equal pay be provided for all substantially similar work, adding flexibility in recognition of the complexity of the issue.

If You Can See It, You Can Be It 2019—Girls in Government: Governor Cuomo will create an opportunity for girls to learn about the impact they can have through politics through the new Girls in Government initiative, a non-partisan program to encourage girls in grades 8 through 12 to get involved in government and public policy. The program will introduce girls to the machinery of advocacy and public policy and teach young girls about public affairs and issues that matter to them personally and in their community. They will witness first-hand the inner workings of state government and meet with elected officials and senior staff.

Creating a Safer New York

Establish Extreme Risk Protection Orders to Save Lives: Governor Cuomo will continue to champion the Red Flag Bill, also known as the Extreme Risk Protection Order Bill, which would prevent individuals determined by a court to have the potential to cause themselves or others serious harm from purchasing, possessing, or attempting to purchase or possess any type of firearm, including handguns, rifles, or shotguns. This legislation builds on New York’s strongest-in-the-nation gun laws, and, if passed, would make New York the first state to empower its teachers and school administrators to prevent school shootings by pursuing court intervention.

Extend the Background Check Waiting Period: Governor Cuomo continues to support legislation to establish a 10-day waiting period for individuals who are not immediately approved to purchase a firearm through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

Ban Bump Stocks: Governor Cuomo will advance legislation to close existing statutory loopholes to prohibit ownership or sale of a bump stock. As evidenced by the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, bump stocks can be equipped to semi-automatic weapons to simulate machine gun fire with deadly consequences. Bump stocks serve no legitimate purposes for hunters or sportsmen and only cause unpredictable and accelerated gun fire, and there is no reason to allow for their continued sale in New York State.

Pass the Child Victims Act: Having advanced the Child Victims Act, Governor Cuomo is fighting to enact the bill and provide survivors with a long-overdue path to justice. This legislation will increase the length of time during which a child sex abuser may be held criminally accountable, allow abuse victims to commence a civil lawsuit at any time until they reach age 50, and ensure that each and every survivor has an opportunity to seek justice by creating a one-year window for victims whose claims have previously been time-barred to bring suit.

Enact Comprehensive Safety Reforms for Large Passenger Vehicles: The horrific tragedies involving modified stretched limousines in Schoharie County in 2018 and Suffolk County in 2015 filled every New Yorker with a deep sense of empathy and sorrow for the victims and their loved ones. Governor Cuomo proposes a number of statutory reforms to both protect passengers and hold those accountable who seek to flout the law, including an outright ban on the registration of remanufactured limousines, prohibiting their operation in New York State.

Authorize Speed Cameras: In order to reinstate the bill signed into law by Governor Cuomo in 2013 authorizing the City of New York to develop a system to advance school zone highway safety utilizing camera technology to record and enforce speeding violations, the Governor will put forward a proposal to reinstate and expand the speed camera program in New York City.

Enacting the Democracy Agenda

Allow Universal Absentee Voting: Governor Cuomo will push to amend the constitution to make absentee ballots available to any eligible voter, no matter their reason for wanting one. 

Enact Statewide Early Voting: This proposal would combine early voting with electronic poll books, making make it easier for poll workers to keep track of voting records and verify voter identity and registration status. 

Permit Same-Day Registration: Governor Cuomo is proposing amending the constitution to eliminate this outdated but formidable barrier to the ballot box. 

Automatic Registration: Today New Yorkers are given the opportunity to register to vote when interacting with State agencies and they must affirmatively ask to be registered. The budget will include a proposal to reverse that process and register eligible New Yorkers to vote unless they affirmatively ask not to be registered. Automatic voter registration will not only boost voter registration and turnout in this state, it will also strengthen our democratic process. 

Make It Easier to Register to Vote: In order to ensure voter registration is as simple as possible, the Governor is proposing that all automatic voter registration opportunities be available online, and that New Yorkers are able to apply to register to vote on the State Board of Elections website if they choose to do so. 

Make Election Day a Holiday: An inability to take off of work should never be a barrier to voting. For this reason, Governor Cuomo will advance legislation to ensure that every worker in New York State receives, as of right, paid time off to vote on Election Day.

Eliminate Restrictions on Voting Before Noon in Upstate Primaries: Governor Cuomo will fix unequal ballot access across the state by ensuring that voting hours are extended for primary elections upstate to match those voting hours across the rest of the state. 

Fight to Ensure that All New Yorkers Are Counted in the 2020 Census: In 2019, Governor Cuomo will launch a comprehensive campaign to protect the integrity of the 2020 Census and to ensure that every New Yorker is counted.

Enacting Ethics Reform

Adopt Campaign Finance Reform: Governor Cuomo will advance a comprehensive package of campaign finance reform legislation to combat the unprecedented influence of big money in politics and empower the voices of all New Yorkers.

  • Public Financing of Elections: There is no incentive in today’s campaign finance system for candidates to focus on ordinary donors. Large donors provide large donations which drown out the voices of ordinary people. Public campaign financing is the remedy to this problem. By enacting a 6:1 public financing matching ratio for small donations, candidates will be incentivized to focus on small donors.
  • Lowering Campaign Contribution Limits: Governor Cuomo is proposing lowering contribution limits for all candidates. By implementing these reforms, and creating a strong public financing system, New York will dramatically reduce the influence of money in politics and return to a government by the people and for the people.
  • Ban Corporate Contributions and Fully Close the LLC Loophole: Ever since the Citizens United decision in 2010, corporate money has overtaken our elections system. It is time for New York State to finally say enough is enough. Governor Cuomo will fix this problem once and for all by banning all corporate and LLC contributions. It is time to restore the power to the people, and take it out of the hands of dark money and special interest donors.
  • Strengthen Disclosure Laws that Expose Dark Money in Politics: In June 2016, Governor Cuomo advanced ethics reform legislation to address the impact of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010). The Governor cautioned about the increase of dark money in politics and promised to “strengthen disclosure requirements and mandate that groups report the identity of anyone exerting control over them.” In August 2016, the Governor signed into law New York Executive Law § 172, which requires disclosures of political relationships and behaviors widely recognized to be influential but which operate in the shadows. Now, with the lessons of the 2018 election in hand, the Governor proposes strengthening this law in a variety of ways to assure all New Yorkers have critical information about who is actually speaking to them. Further, the Governor is seeking to streamline the reporting process for 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations, including by providing a mechanism for organizations to apply for a statutory exemption before the start of a reporting period.

Require Financial Disclosures by Local Elected Officials:This proposal will require these local elected officials to submit basic financial disclosure information to JCOPE, just like their state counterparts, so that the people of New York State can have the information they need about the people they choose to represent them at all levels of government.

Build a Dynamic, User-Friendly Database of Economic Development Projects: In an effort to increase transparency and modernize the information available on State economic development efforts, the Governor is directing Empire State Development (ESD) to build and host a searchable online database that will give the public more current and relevant information on projects that receive ESD assistance. When deployed, the new database will provide the public with more recent information on projects and combine the data from many static, program-specific reports into one dynamic, user-friendly website.

Ensuring Immigrant Rights

Pass the Jose Peralta DREAM Act: Governor Cuomo will pass the Senator Jose R. Peralta DREAM Act to finally open the doors of higher education to thousands of New Yorkers. The Senator Jose R. Peralta DREAM Act will give undocumented New York students, who are deserving of the same advantages given to their citizen peers, access to the Tuition Assistance Program, as well as state administered scholarships. 

Codify Executive Order Prohibiting State Agencies from Inquiring About Immigration Status: In 2017, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 170, prohibiting State agencies and officers from inquiring about or disclosing an individual’s immigration status unless required by law or necessary to determine eligibility for a benefit or service. Building upon further amendments to the Executive Order, Governor Cuomo proposes codifying the protection of the amended EO 170 into law.

Protecting LGBTQ Rights

Pass the Gender Identity and Expression Non-Discrimination Act: Governor Cuomo supports the passage of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), solidifying protections against discrimination, harassment, and hate crimes against people on the basis of gender identity.

Banning Conversion Therapy: Governor Cuomo supportslegislation to expand the definition of professional misconduct for professions licensed under the education law to include engaging in, advertising for, or allowing someone under one’s direction or oversight to engage in conversion therapy with a patient under the age of eighteen years. 

Ban the “Gay Panic” Defense: Governor Cuomo will again push to close the loophole in New York State by passing legislation to ban gay and trans panic defenses.

Make Surrogacy Legal in New York State: New York State law presently bans the practice of gestational surrogacy, and creates destabilizing uncertainty about who the legal parents are when a child is conceived via other reproductive technology like artificial insemination or egg donation. The Governor is proposing legislation to lift the ban on surrogacy contracts to permit gestational carrier agreements.

Serving Our Veterans

Support for Transgender Troops: New York will stand with all veterans regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. This year, all New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs staff will receive LGBTQ cultural competency training to help understand how to best serve LGBTQ veterans. DVA will also work with LGBTQ-focused organizations to make sure that each and every LGBTQ veteran receives individualized assistance in a safe and supportive environment, including by helping LGBTQ veterans upgrade their service discharges so that these brave veterans will be able to access healthcare, education, financial compensation, and other benefits they have earned.

JUSTICE FOR ALL NEW YORKERS

Protecting Quality, Affordable Health Care

Codify Health Care Protections and Coverage Guarantees for New Yorkers: In light of the continued federal attacks on the ACA, Governor Cuomo believes it is essential that New York codify key ACA provisions, including the state’s health insurance marketplace, as well as enhanced State regulatory protections into State law. This is critical to stabilizing the health insurance market and inoculating New York from any further federal attacks on the health care system.

Take Action to Achieve Universal Access to Health Care: Governor Cuomo is establishing a Commission on universal health care to be supported by Department of Health and Department of Financial Services, and comprised of health policy and insurance experts to develop options for achieving universal access to high-quality, affordable health care in New York. This review process will consider all options for expanding access to care, including strengthening New York’s commercial insurance market, expanding programs to include populations that are currently ineligible or cannot afford coverage, as well as innovative reimbursement models to improve efficiency and generate savings to support expanded coverage.

Fighting to End the Opioid Epidemic

Protect New Yorkers from Predatory Practices: Governor Cuomo will advance legislation to 1) require that out-of-state facilities be licensed in their home state and accredited by a nationally recognized organization, and 2) prevent predatory out-of-state providers from targeting justice involved individuals by working with courts to immediately connect individuals to in-state treatment programs and by advancing legislation to protect in-state court ordered treatment. He will also direct OASAS to implement regulations that require out-of-state marketers comply with OASAS requirements when marketing in New York State. With these actions, New York will implement the strongest practices in the nation to protect its residents, forcing predatory treatment programs to look elsewhere to fill their facility quotas.

Expand Access to Buprenorphine: Buprenorphine is an important advance in Medication Assisted Treatment, which, like methadone and injectable naltrexone, is used in combination with counseling as appropriate to help people reach and sustain recovery from Opioid Use Disorder. To expand use of buprenorphine, Governor Cuomo will direct the Department of Health to require all hospitals statewide to develop protocols for their Emergency Departments to address Opioid Use Disorder based on the standard of care for treatment or referral for treatment.

Expand Access to Medication Assisted Treatment in Criminal Justice Settings: To expand access to treatment in prisons and jails, Governor Cuomo has directed OASAS to distribute over $4 million to support addiction treatment services in over 50 facilities. Additionally, Governor Cuomo will expand access to Medication Assisted Treatment by providing $1.2 million to support the establishment of up to three new MAT programs in State prisons.

Increase Access to Naloxone: Governor Cuomo will direct DOH to advance legislation that expands Good Samaritan laws to apply to workers in restaurants, bars, and other retail establishments. In addition, Governor Cuomo will increase access to naloxone at SUNY and CUNY by ensuring that naloxone is provided as part of every dorm first aid kit, or available for the Resident Assistant on duty every night in every SUNY and CUNY dorm.

Launch a Comprehensive Substance Use Prevention Blueprint for Schools: At Governor Cuomo’s direction, New York State will launch a statewide collaborative to streamline all prevention resources and develop best practices, standards, and metrics for substance use prevention into a focused “Prevention Blueprint” that will assist schools to follow a comprehensive, evidence-based and data-driven approach to prevention. OASAS shall work in collaboration with the State Education Department, Department of Health and the Office of Mental Health to develop the Prevention Blueprint for use in the 2020-21 school year.

Creating Healthy Communities

Protect New Yorkers from Unknown Exposure to Toxic Chemicals: Governor Cuomo will introduce new legislation authorizing the Department of Environmental Conservation, the Department of Health and the Department of State to develop regulations establishing an on-package labeling requirement for designated products, indicating the presence of potentially hazardous chemicals, developing a list of the more than 1,000 carcinogens and other chemicals that will trigger labeling, and identifying the types of consumer products that will be subject to the new regime. DEC and DOH will be further empowered to require manufacturers to disclose the chemical contents of consumer products in sold or distributed in New York State and explore possible additional measures to protect consumers.

Control Health Threats from Tobacco: Governor Cuomo is proposing comprehensive legislation to combat the rising use of tobacco products. This legislation includes:

  • Raising the Minimum Sales Age for Tobacco and Electronic Cigarette Products from 18 to 21: Most underage youth obtain tobacco and vapor products from friends who are over 18 and can legally purchase products. Raising the minimum age will remove sources of tobacco from high schools.
  • Ending the Sale of Tobacco and Electronic Cigarette Products in Pharmacies: Health care related entities should not be in the business of selling tobacco, the leading cause of preventable death in New York State. Ending the sale of tobacco and electronic cigarette products in pharmacies will reduce the availability, visibility, and social acceptability of tobacco use, especially to youth.
  • Clarify the Department of Health’s Authority to Ban the Sale of Certain Flavored E-Cigarette Liquids: Flavored combustible cigarettes, except menthol, were banned by the FDA in 2009 to reduce youth smoking as they were frequently used as a starter product.  Most e-cigarette users said their first e-cigarette was flavored. Flavors, such as sweet tart, toffee, and bubble gum, make e-cigarettes more attractive and make e-cigarettes more attractive to youth. Legislation is being introduced to provide the Department of Health the authority to ban the sale of flavored liquids that target youth use of e-cigarettes.
  • Restricting Available Discounts Provided by Tobacco and Electronic Cigarette Manufacturers and Retailers: New York has the highest cigarette tax in the nation, but manufacturers and retailers have developed tactics to reduce prices, such as “buy one, get one free” discounts. These tactics directly target price-sensitive consumers, including youth. Restricting discounts on tobacco and vapor products will strengthen the impact of New York’s tax on tobacco and disincentivize tobacco use.
  • Introduce a Tax on E-Cigarettes: Tobacco use is reduced or prevented when the price of tobacco products is high. Youth are particularly sensitive to price increases on tobacco products. New York State has one of the highest taxes on combustible cigarettes and one of the lowest youth smoking rates in the country. The same rationale is expected to apply to taxation and youth use of electronic cigarettes and e-liquids.
  • Require E-Cigarettes to Be Sold Only Through Licensed Retailers: Currently the sale of e-cigarettes is almost entirely unregulated. Restricting the sale to licensed retailers will allow the current enforcement infrastructure to ensure that minors do not purchase tobacco products.

Invest in Community-Based Supports for Aging New Yorkers: Governor Cuomo proposes investing $15 million in community-based supports for aging New Yorkers. This needed targeted investment in NYSOFA’s programs and services will help serve more older adults and will help them maintain their autonomy, support family and friends in their caregiving roles, and delay future Medicaid costs. Working with the Department of Health, NYSOFA will develop specific metrics to evaluate the success of this investment.

Create the Family First Transition Fund: The state will leverage the investment of private foundation funding to create a Family First Transition fund that will provide resources to local departments of social services and foster care agencies to have the resources needed to prepare for the implementation of the Family First federal legislation. This investment will allow New York State to adequately prepare for the implementation of Family First and will position New York to continue to prioritize the needs of its most vulnerable children and families and ensure the local departments of social services are fully equipped to meet those needs while maintaining compliance with important federal benchmarks.

Continuing New York’s Environmental Leadership

Launching the Green New Deal: Amidst the Trump Administration’s assault on the environment and in order to continue New York’s progress in the fight against climate change, Governor Cuomo is announcing New York’s Green New Deal, a nation-leading clean energy and jobs agenda that will put the state on a path to carbon neutrality across all sectors of New York’s economy. At the Governor’s direction, New York will move boldly to achieve this goal with specific near-term actions and long-term strategies to spur unparalleled innovation and transform the state’s electric, transportation, and building infrastructure while prioritizing the needs of low- and moderate-income New Yorkers. This landmark initiative will further drive the growth of New York’s clean energy economy, create tens of thousands of high-quality 21st century jobs, provide all New Yorkers with cleaner air and water by reducing harmful emissions, and set an example of climate leadership for the rest of the nation and world to follow.  

Establish $10 Billion Green Future Fund: This year, Governor Cuomo will advance a $10 billion Green Future Fund to support clean water infrastructure, renewable energy and clean transportation, and open space and resiliency. This fund includes $5 billion in total for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure—building upon the $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act and effectively doubling the state’s investment in clean water over the next five years.

Continue Historic $300 Million Environmental Protection Fund: Governor Cuomo proposes maintaining the State’s historic $300 million EPF. This investment will prioritize programs to protect New York’s water bodies, promote stewardship projects in parks and on other state lands, revitalize municipal waterfronts, and build community resilience to climate change—all while creating jobs and stimulating local economies.

Expanding the Bottle Bill to Include Most Nonalcoholic Drinks: In order to reduce litter and provide relief to overburdened municipal recycling entities who are struggling amidst changes to the global recycling markets, Governor Cuomo will expand the Bottle Bill to make most non-alcoholic beverage containers eligible for 5 cent redemption, including those for sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit and vegetable beverages and ready-to-drink teas and coffee. 

Prohibiting the Use of Plastic Bags: To address the environmental impacts of single-use plastic bags, Governor Cuomo proposes a statewide plastic bag prohibition with certain exceptions.

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COUNTY FINISHES WITH ALL TIME RECORD SALES TAX, $550.5 MILLION 5% OVER LAST YEAR WITH $25 MILLION GAIN.

WHITE PLAINS 3% BELOW LAST YEAR’S SALES TAX PACE AFTER 6 MONTHS.

WPCNR QUILL & EYESHADE. By John F. Bailey, Based on Figures from New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. January 19, 2019:

Westchester  County set a sales tax receipts record in 2018.

In figures for December released today, the Department of Taxation and Finance reports the final figure for Westchester sales tax receipts for the fiscal year just ended is $550,562,481, a 4.8% increase over the 2017 sales tax handle of $525,513,104.

This is a $25 Million dollar gain from last year’s sales tax. How the sales tax windfall is being used in the 2019 budget is not clear at this time.

On the local city scene, the White Plains sales tax after the first six months of the WP fiscal year 2018-19  is running 3% behind last year’s pace. At the halfway mark the city has earned $24,787,997 the first six months this fiscal year, compared to $25,497,198 the first half of 2017-18, a 2.8 % decline.

If White Plains equals the pace of the first six months of 2018, January through June in 2019, the city would receive $25,497,198 when added to the $24,787,997 already in the till, at the halfway mark, the city would equal last year’s handle by June, realizing $50.3 MILLION.

However, the city is down 3%, and the city handle declined in December, something that is unusual.

If you a apply a 3% decline trend over the next six months the city take would  be $48,630,089, a 3.3% decline.

A figure that is sobering about what it says about the White Plains economy  is Westchester County was up 9.2% in sales tax dollars Dec 2018 vs. Dec. 2017 while White Plains was down about 1% — not even keeping pace with inflation.

The county 9.2% gain matched their biggest month to month gain of the year. However the overall tax receipts prediction the county made in early November was $578 Million, and they fell $28 Million.

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WESTCHESTER WILL NOT PROSECUTE POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA LESS THAN 2 OUNCES, BEGINNING MONDAY THE 14TH

WPCNR POLICE GAZETTE. From the Office of the Westchester County District Attorney. January 13, 2018:W

In a continuing effort to promote fairness in how crime is prosecuted, Westchester County District Attorney Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr. is implementing changes in the handling of low-level marijuana offenses in Westchester County.

Under this new policy, the possession of small amounts (two ounces or less) of marijuana will no longer result in a criminal conviction negating the collateral damage such a conviction might impose.

The changes in prosecution of these current laws with take effect Monday, Jan. 14, 2019:
• Unlawful Possession of Marijuana (Penal Law § 221.05, a Violation)
• Criminal Possession of Marijuana in the Fifth Degree (Penal Law § 221.10, a Class B misdemeanor)

Specifically, the District Attorney’s Office will no longer prosecute (i) the violation offense in Penal Law §221.05, Unlawful Possession of Marijuana, and (ii) the B misdemeanor offense in Penal Law §221.10 (2), Criminal Possession of Marijuana in the Fifth Degree, based on the possession of an aggregate weight of more than 25 grams, provided the person is only charged with those offenses.

Regarding the second charge, the DA’s Office will prosecute the B misdemeanor offense in Penal Law §221.10 (1) only as a violation (under Penal Law §221.05 for the Unlawful Possession of Marijuana) when a person possesses, in a public place, burning or publicly viewable marijuana, provided the person is only charged with this offense.

This will avoid the stigma of a criminal record for many of our young people with long-lasting negative consequences disproportionate to the minor nature of the offense.

The District Attorney’s review of the prosecution of lower level marijuana offenses is ongoing and further changes will be announced as they are adopted.

DA Scarpino said,

“After a careful review of marijuana cases in Westchester, as well as discussions with police, community leaders and advocates, we have made the decision to change how we prosecute such offenses.

This decision not to prosecute specific cases will allow many people to move forward with their lives without the stigma attached to criminal records of any kind, records that cause discrimination in housing, job and school applications.

Much of this has burdened our minority communities and we believe it is time to rectify that.”

DA Scarpino added,

“This change in how low-level marijuana cases are handled is also aimed at a better use of public resources. What has been spent on arrests and prosecutions can now be used to focus on more serious crimes.”

Beyond this decision, DA Scarpino is urging Governor Cuomo and state legislators to create a uniform approach to prosecuting marijuana offenses and end the disparity currently in place from county to county.

This progressive action by the DA’s Office follows bail reform, which was announced last year at this time.

The DA’s Office no longer requests bail for defendants whose cases would not end in a sentence of incarceration, eliminating cash bail for most misdemeanors. The office found bail on non-violent low-level offenses where the defendant was not a flight risk weighed heavily on poorer defendants.

DA Scarpino said, “These reforms in the bail process and marijuana prosecution are illustrations of our commitment to a fairer system of justice that works for every member of our community, no matter where they live, the color of their skin or the amount in their wallets.”

The DA’s Office reserves the right to continue to prosecute all other marijuana-related offenses.

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WPDPW CONDUCTING SEWER TESTS IN NEIGHBORHOODS THIS WEEK TO CHECK FOR UNAUTHORIZED WASTE OR ROGUE DRAINAGE ENTERING CITY SANITARY SEWERS SYSTEM


WPCNR DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS ADVISORY. 
 From the Rosedale Residential Association. January 12, 2018:

Below is an informational email from Tracey Muhlfeld, Office of the Commissioner of Public Works for White Plains

Dear Respective Neighborhood Association Presidents and Co-Presidents:

On
behalf of Commissioner Richard Hope, we would like to make you aware of work that will be taking place in various locations in your areas:

Beginning Monday, January 14th, the Department of Public Works will be conducting Smoke Testing in some of the public sanitary sewer lines in your neighborhoods.  These tests will be done in one neighborhood at a time.  I am attaching a list of streets, along with the test dates, for your convenience.  The majority of these tests are for one day only.

The purpose of these smoke tests is to assure the integrity of our sewer lines and to determine if there are sources of water entering the lines either through direct connections (i.e. sump pumps or roof leaders) or through broken lines in the ground (i.e. the city’s sewer mains or homeowner service lines.)  

Defective or illicit connections overload the sanitary sewer system and threaten the environment, as well as the operation of the County’s sewage treatment operations.


Attached is a direct link to the City of White Plains DPW Website with information regarding the testing. 


In addition, I am attaching to this e-mail a copy of the door hanger, which residents will be given prior to their street testing; a letter from the Commissioner of Public Works detailing the project and also a pdf of the names of streets and dates of testing. All of these documents are linked on the website as well.

https://www.cityofwhiteplains.com/222/10155/Bureau-of-Water-Wastewater

https://www.cityofwhiteplains.com/DocumentCenter/View/4765/SSES-Year-1-Smoke-Testing-Public-Notification-Letter_01-09-2019

https://www.cityofwhiteplains.com/DocumentCenter/View/4766/Smoke-Test-Door-Hanger

https://www.cityofwhiteplains.com/DocumentCenter/View/4764/RoadsNeighborhoods-for-smoke-testing-2019



Thank you, once again, for working with the City of White Plains to help make our infrastructure as safe as possible.

Yours truly,

Tracey Muhlfeld
Office of the Commissioner of Public Works
City of White Plains
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WHITE PLAINS WEEK ON THE BIOTECH BILLION DOLLAR DEAL ON YOUTUBE AND www.wpcommunitymedia.org and WWW.WHITEPLAINSWEEK.COM INSTANTLY!

WHITE PLAINS WEEK STARTS 19TH YEAR COVERING WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

ON THE AIR

ON THE TRUTH

WHEREVER IT WINDS
NOW ON YOUTUBE AT


 https://youtu.be/EYTWJ_rxC4Q

AND
www.wpcommunitymedia.org

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ON THE BIOTECH BILLLION DOLLAR DEAL


MORE FACTS THAN A PRESS RELEASE

HOW LONG IT WILL TAKE TO BUILD

WHEN IT MIGHT START

THE FINANCING ARRANGEMENT

WHERE IT WILL GO

WHAT COMES FIRST.

PLUS
THE NEW CITY BUDGET DIRECTOR

EILEEN EARL’S ROLE AHEAD

THE 2018 REAL ESTATE BLUES

THE AFFECT OF THE SHUTDOWN ON WESTCHESTER

AND MORE







Posted in Uncategorized

The Buchwald Report Albany Agenda 2019: Tax Relief & Election Reform

WPCNR THE BUCHWALD REPORT. From Assemblyman David Buchwald. January 9, 2019:


The previous Congress passed and the President signed a new tax law at the end of 2017 that punishes New Yorkers by severly limiting tax deductions for state and local taxes (SALT). For many Westchester residents this means a large federal tax hike. I championed efforts in the state legislature to establish charitable donation programs to help fund local governments and school districts, rescuing some of the tax deductions.

 However, as expected, the Internal Revenue Service says it won’t allow them. With my Assembly colleague Amy Paulin and other elected officials, I am challenging that IRS position and our consortium has retained expert legal counsel to assist us. This will be a long fight, but I believe we must take on Washington to protect Westchester families and our local economy.

Early Voting & Election Reforms

ASSEMBLYMAN DAVID BUCHWALD at the WPTV Studios in White Plains New York USA

34 states (plus the District of Columbia) permit early voting in some form, sadly New York is still not one of them. 

I am determined to change this and this fall the Assembly subcommittee I chair on Election Day Operations and Voter Disenfranchisement held a hearing in New York on ways to reform our antiquated election laws.

Elections experts and citizens testifying said early voting and no excuse absentee ballots are a must and I agree.

 I also support holding election primaries for federal and state offices on the same day, saving taxpayers $50 million dollars each election.

I will also introduce legislation on campaign finance reform regarding campaign contributions from vendors doing business with the state.

$7 Million in Bridge NY Funds

I am pleased that Bridge NY Program funds are coming to our area to spare local property taxpayers  the full cost of needed bridge repairs.

 In White Plains $5 million was awarded to the County of Westchester for major repairs to its Main Street bridge over the Bronx River Parkway.

 In the Village of Mount Kisco, $1.913 million in Bridge NY funds will pay for repairs to the Preston Way bridge over Metro-North Railroad.

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School Board Agendas to Go to Internet Distribution Only. Available 2 Days Before Meeting Dates

WPCNR SCHOOL DAYS. From the White Plains Board of Education. January 8, 2018:

            Beginning with its January 14th Regular Meeting, the White Plains Board of Education will adopt new technology which will improve the process of Board governance. 

Beginning this Saturday, School Board meeting agendas will available only by simply going to either of the following the sites: https://www.boarddocs.com/ny/wpcsd/Board.nsf/Public.  Once the agenda is public at midnight Saturday morning it will automatically appear on your screen. 

Alternatively, go to the district’s website:  www.whiteplainspublicschools.org, “Board of Education,” “Boarddocs”

 Meeting agendas will be posted 48 hours in advance of meetings and will no longer be distributed via email, as previously done.  

Regular Meeting dates for the balance of the 2018-19 school year are as follows:  January 14th, February 11th, March 11th, April 8th, May 13th and June 10th.

“BoardDocs” is a paperless management tool, designed to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of board meetings with distribution of meeting agendas with unprecedented public access to related information. 

All documents associated with a meeting are archived and can be accessed using the system’s search feature.

According to Michele Schoenfeld, Clerk to the Board of Education, press releases will continue to be issued to media and organizations.

 

            Eventually the district will also use the system for online policy management, accessible by the public.

            Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph L. Ricca said, “This is a win-win situation.  We expect greater efficiency for our staff and increased transparency for the public.”

 Meeting agendas will be posted 48 hours in advance of meetings and will no longer be distributed via email, as previously done.   Regular Meeting dates for the balance of the 2018-19 school year are as follows:  January 14th, February 11th, March 11th, April 8th, May 13th and June 10th.

           

            Further information is available from the District Clerk at 914-422-2071.

The City of White Plains has issued agendas for city Common Council meetings exclusively on its website within 72 hours of the day of the meetings for a number of years.

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2018 A Lackluster Year for Westchester-Putnam, Dutchess Real Estate.

WPCNR REALTY REALITY. Special to WPCNR From Houlihan Lawrence. January 8, 2018 (Edited):

Home sales in Westchester County were down 4.6% from the prior year while sales in Putnam County were up slightly by 3%.

Locally, White Plains, Greenburgh and Valhalla home sales rose 4% and the median price went up 5%.

Dutchess County sales declined 6.6% for the year.

The real estate markets in the suburbs north of New York City finished 2018 with generally slower sales, higher inventory in most markets and a decline in pending sales, according to a report released today by Houlihan Lawrence.

Meanwhile, median sale prices were somewhat higher in all three counties: Westchester ($650,000, up 1.2%), Putnam ($350,000, up 4%) and Dutchess ($281,500, up 8.3%).

Number of homes for sale in Westchester grew by 9.5% with the New York City Gateway submarket (Mount Vernon, Yonkers, New Rochelle and Pelham) posting the highest increase in inventory of 35.2%.

Putnam’s inventory remained virtually unchanged from the prior year while inventory in Dutchess declined by 11.8 %.

The number of pending sales in Westchester and Putnam fell 10.9% and 11.4 %, respectively, while pending sales in Dutchess declined by 17.2%.

Here are some highlights from the year-end report:

  • Westchester communities reporting double-digit increases in total sales for the year included Peekskill (33%), Hastings (25%), Rye Neck (26%), Greenburgh (14%), Pleasantville (13%) and Somers (10%).  Rivertown communities such as Peekskill and Hastings continue to attract buyers from New York City.
  • In Dutchess, the sales leaders were Clinton (27%), Beacon (20%) and East Fishkill (14%). Dutchess is enjoying an influx of residents from Brooklyn looking for a more relaxed country lifestyle, especially in the Village of Beacon which is undergoing a downtown revival.
  • In Putnam, Haldane, Mahopac and Brewster all posted double-digit sales gain for the year of 33%, 11% and 12%, respectively.

NYC Gateway

(Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Pelham and Yonkers)

Homes Sold: down 8%

Median Sale Price: up 5%

Lower Westchester

(Bronxville, Eastchester, Edgemont, Scarsdale and Tuckahoe)

Homes Sold: down 11%

Median Sale Price: down 9%

Rivertowns

(Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Hastings, Mount Pleasant, Pleasantville, Tarrytown, Briarcliff Manor, Elmsford, Irvington Ossining, Pocantico Hills)

Homes Sold: down 2%

Median Sale Price: up 2%

Median Sale Price: up 5%

Sound Shore

(Blind Brook, Harrison, Mamaroneck, Port Chester, Rye City and Rye Neck)

Homes Sold: down 1%

Median Sale Price: up 2%

Northern Westchester

(Bedford, Byram Hills, Chappaqua, Katonah-Lewisboro, North Salem, and Somers)

Homes Sold: down 7%

Median Sale Price: up 1%

Northwest Westchester

(Croton-on-Hudson, Hendrick Hudson, Lakeland, Peekskill and Yorktown)

Homes Sold: down 4%

Median Sale Price: up 4%

Putnam County

(Brewster, Carmel, Garrison, Haldane, Lakeland, Mahopac and Putnam Valley)

Homes Sold: up 3%

Median Sale Price: up 4%

Southwest Dutchess

(Beacon, East Fishkill, Fishkill, La Grange, Poughkeepsie, City of Poughkeepsie and Wappinger)

Homes Sold: down 3%

Median Sale Price: up 10%

Southeast Dutchess

(Beekman, Dover, Pawling and Union Vale)

Homes Sold: down 12%

Median Sale Price: up 8%

Northwest Dutchess

(Clinton, Hyde Park, Milan, Pleasant Valley, Red Hook and Rhinebeck)

Homes Sold: down 14%

Median Sale Price: up 9%

Northeast Dutchess

(Amenia, North East, Pine Plains, Stanford and Washington)

Homes Sold: down 13%

Median Sale Price: down up 11%

Posted in Uncategorized

Common Council Appears United in effort to Televise “Citizens to be Heard.” Resolution Tabled awaiting more information. Hope is it will be Passed in time to Telecast CTBH by February 4

WPCNR COMMON COUNCIL CHRONICLE-EXAMINER. By John F. Bailey January 8, 2018:

The Common Council is going to put Citizens to Be Heard on television, possibly as soon as the next Common Council meeting, February 4.

Reacting to a group of citizens some 800 strong on the Citizens to Be Heard Facebook page promoting the televising of the Citizens to Be Heard, (the 30-minute citizen speaksession prelude to regular monthly Common Council meetings that has never been televised since its inception during the Delfino administration over 15 years ago), a consensus of councilmembers agreed to get behind the effort to make “CTBH” a televised part of regular Common Council monthly telecasts.

The legislation drawn up in the last 6 days by the city legal department was discussed during the last 8 minutes of the Common Council meeting.

The Council voted to table the legislation pending Mayor Tom Roach preparing a report on the best practices of televising such public input sessions around the area and in different cities in the state.

The cameras could be rolling during the next Citizens to be Heard session on February 4.

Here is the 8-minute sequence from last night’s Council meeting, where the Mayor explained the legislation; threw his support behind it, as did councilpersons Nadine Hunt-Robinson, Jason Barash, Milagros Lecuona, Dennis Krolian and John Kirkpatrick.

MAYOR TOM ROACH, closing out the Common Council explaining the legislation to televise Citizens to Be Heard, and explaining the report he is preparing for the Common Council. After Mayor Roach you will hear from councilpersons John Kirkpatrick, Milagros Lecuona, Dennis Krolian, Nadine Hunt-Robinson, and Jason Barasch on the Citizens To Heard telecasting. About 7:25. Click arrow to watch the action
Posted in Uncategorized

City Hires James Arnett, veteran Westchester County budget troubleshooter to be New Budget Director Effective January 14. Intros legislation to telecast Citizens to Be Heard

WPCNR COMMON COUNCIL CHRONICLE-EXAMINER. By John F. Bailey. January 7, 2018 UPDATED 9:30 A.M. JANUARY 8:

The Common Council this evening approved the hire of a career Westchester County budgeting manager, James Arnett, to fill the position of Budget Director, a position vacant since Michael Genito retired as Budget Director in July, 2017.

MAYOR ROACH INTRODUCES COUNCILMAN JOHN MARTIN WHO NOTES MR. ARNETT’S EXPERIENCE. THEN MAYOR ROACH NOTES EILEEN BRADLEY’S CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE CITY AND HER ROLE AFTER MR. ARNETT COMES ABOARD.

Mr. Arnett is currently employed with the Westchester County Department of Environmental Facilities and according to a Common Councilmember, is currently responsible for a $231,000,000 budget for that department. He has held that position since 2007. (The City of White Plains budget is $196 Million.)

The councilmember told WPCNR this afternoon that Mr. Arnett has previously worked in the County budget department and has approximately almost three decades of budgeting positions for various departments in the county.

Since Michael Genito retired from the city, the city budget has been the responsibility of Eileen Earl as Acting Budget Director. The Mayor indicated that Ms. Earl would be contributing to the preparation of the 2019-2020 budget and be easing Mr. Arnett into the saddle.

Councilman John Martin commented Mr. Arnett had a long experience in County Government.

In a last minute addition to the council agenda, Mr. Martin added Items 102A and B were introduced as an effort to make televising the Citizens to Be Heard portion of the council meeting. The two additions were explained at the close of meeting, and the Council tabled it until February 4. The Mayor said he would have a report on practices as early as next week.

WPCNR observes this may be in response to a citizens group that has lobbied lately for televising the 30 minute session before the meeting that is held at the first Council meeting of the month.

Posted in Uncategorized