2018-01-17 / Political Page

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NEW PLAN COUNTERACTS REPEALED STATE AND LOCAL TAX DEDUCTIONS: Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) announced that she would redouble her efforts to restore the full deductibility of State and Local Taxes (SALT) by encouraging New York City and State to review a creative new plan to counteract the effects on New Yorkers of the tax law recently passed by Congressional Republicans.

The proposal, put forth by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05) and Governor-elect Phil Murphy of New Jersey, encourages states and localities to set up charitable trusts for the purpose of funding investments in education, law enforcement, first responders and other essential government services. Taxpayers could make tax-deductible contributions in lieu of state and local taxes in order to offset the severe cuts in SALT deductions in the new tax law.

“The Republican tax law is a declaration of war on New Yorkers and we need to fight it with every tool at our disposal in order to protect ourselves from the massive tax hikes we are now facing,” said Rep. Maloney. “The law’s severe restriction of the SALT deduction effectively doubles taxes (on) millions of New Yorkers, forcing us to pay significantly higher federal taxes while causing our home values to drop. This restriction will also force our state and local governments to slash investments in education, police, fire and other essential services. That is why I am calling on Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio and all of New York City and State’s elected officials to seriously consider the Gottheimer-Murphy proposal and any others that may counteract the harm the Republicans’ tax scam will do to our city and state.”

More than half of New York tax filers rely on the SALT deduction to reduce taxes paid to the federal government. New York is already a “donor” state, paying $56 billion more in taxes to the federal government than it receives in federal funding. The severe reduction in allowable SALT deductions in the new tax law would result in an even larger gap between federal taxes paid and federal funding received.

CUOMO SUPPORTS BILL TO RESTORE DEDUCTIBILITY OF STATE, LOCAL TAXES: Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged his support of a new bipartisan House bill to fully restore the deductibility of state and local taxes. He stated, “Washington has launched a direct attack on New York State’s economic future by eliminating full deductibility of state and local taxes. New York is already the number one donor state in the nation, paying Washington $48 billion more than we get back. The elimination of our SALT deduction devastates New York more than any other state and costs New Yorkers an additional $14 billion.

“I often say that we are Democrats and we are Republicans, but we are New Yorkers first. Today Representatives Nita Lowey and Peter King came together in a bipartisan fashion and introduced legislation to fully restore the deductibility of state and local taxes.

“These members are doing what they were elected to do—protect New Yorkers. They showed that New York won’t take this assault sitting down, and I will continue to do everything possible to right this economic injustice.”

CROWLEY: RYAN MUST ALLOW DACA VOTE: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement after a judge in California temporarily halted President Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program:

“It is more urgent than ever that Congress immediately brings security and stability to the DREAMers. This ruling, while heartening for the thousands of DREAMers facing imminent deportation, is not permanent and is not a solution. The uncertainty plaguing the 800,000 young men and women who’ve given so much to our country is still very real. These students and young professionals are still at risk of being ripped from their families to be deported to a country they barely know.

“The time is now for the dozens of Republicans who’ve spoken out in favor of DACA to demand that their leaders in Congress and President Trump act. A clean DREAM Act would pass today if Speaker Ryan would allow a vote.”

‘CURRENT MISDEMEANOR BAIL POLICY WORKING’ – DA BROWN: Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown has released the following statement regarding bail being set in misdemeanor cases:

“Bail is rarely set on misdemeanor cases in Criminal Court in Queens County and is reserved for those cases where the defendant’s history indicates a high likelihood that he or she will not appear in court when needed. Our policy has been to seek bail when the defendant’s history and the circumstances of the case warrant it and, where appropriate, we will continue to do so.

“Our policy has always been, and will continue to be, to seek bail in those misdemeanor cases involving defendants with prior histories of failing to appear, lengthy criminal records which indicate a likeliness to flee, or other pending cases. In a study that we did of one week picked at random, we found that of 700 defendants arraigned on misdemeanor charges in Queens County, bail was set on only 43 (6%) of those cases. Among those 43 defendants there were 478 prior arrests, 340 prior convictions, 114 prior bench warrants and 93 other pending cases. Forty of the 43 defendants had other pending cases when they were arrested. We repeated this survey on three subsequent occasions and the results were identical.

“At the end of 2017, out of 7,100 pending Queens misdemeanor cases there were just 55 misdemeanor defendants from Queens who were being held on Rikers Island solely because they cannot make bail. Those defendants have an average of 11 prior arrests, one felony conviction, six misdemeanor convictions and two prior failures to appear in court. These numbers demonstrate that our current policy is working.”

BILL TO CREATE NYS HOUSEHOLD PAINT STEWARDSHIP PROGRAM APPROVED: NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. recently joined his Senate Environmental Conservation Committee colleagues in approving legislation (S.881) he co-sponsors that would establish a greatly needed statewide paint stewardship program to give New Yorkers greater opportunities to safely and conveniently dispose of old cans of paint. The next step for the bill would be a vote by the full Senate.

Under the proposal, paint manufacturers would be required to either set up a paint stewardship program of their own to accept leftover household paint from consumers, or form a non-profit organization of producers to launch an initiative for the collection, transportation, reuse, recycling, and/or possible burning for energy of old paint by appropriately licensed facilities.

It is estimated that 3.1 million gallons of paint is unused in New York State every year, “and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that about 10 percent of household paint nationwide becomes waste. Tossing old paint into the garbage or washing it down the sink or sewer system is a threat to our environment,” Addabbo said, noting that paint is the single largest waste stream managed by local government household hazardous waste programs and that if this legislation is signed into law, it could potentially save New York about $25 million annually.

Addabbo pointed out that the legislation, which passed the Senate but not the Assembly in 2017, is supported by the City of New York since 60-65 percent of material accepted from the public at annual SAFE disposal events is paint.

Eight other states, as well as Washington, D.C., have already instituted similar programs, where 80 percent of the latex paint recycled is used to make new paint. ”As is the case with other states, the proposed New York legislation would allow for a small increase in the price of paint sold to help support the implementation and operation of the stewardship program,” Addabbo said. Generally, the assessments in other states are approximately 35 cents for under a gallon of paint, 75 cents for a gallon, and about $1.60 for containers above a gallon up to five gallons.

“I hope the State Assembly pursues this consumer friendly and environmentally wise legislation this year,” said Addabbo. ”We all want to do the right thing in terms of protecting our environment, and we should make it as easy as possible for all people to do so.”

ADDABBO APPOINTED AS RANKING DEM MEMBER OF EDUCATION COMMITTEE: Calling it “an excellent opportunity to have even more involvement in ensuring a quality education for all of our school children,” NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. recently announced his appointment as the ranking Democratic member of the New York State Senate Education Committee.

Addabbo, a member of the Senate Education Committee since being elected in 2008, was chosen by Senate Minority Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins to serve as the Conference’s point person on education funding and policy issues for the legislative session.

“As the father of two children attending New York City public schools, I have both a personal and public policy perspective in making sure that our students receive the best possible education,” said Addabbo.

In addition to the critical educational challenges ahead facing the state during its budget negotiations, another major issue the Senate Education Committee might consider and monitor is the ongoing implementation of the “Next Generation Learning Standards,” which constitute revisions to the highly controversial Common Core requirements that have been so hotly debated in recent years, Addabbo explained.

“In the past I held town hall meetings and have spoken in the district on Common Core to talk directly to my constituents and education professionals about the over-reliance on standardized testing, issues surrounding teacher and principal evaluations, and other concerns,” said Addabbo. “Some of these issues are being addressed in the new standards, and I will be paying close attention to how the changes impact our school children and educators.”

The Education Committee will also be deeply involved in reviewing Governor Cuomo’s 2018- 19 Executive Budget, which is scheduled for presentation to the Legislature on January 16. “Adequate funding for our city public schools and other underserved schools throughout our state is an ongoing concern,” Addabbo said. ”While public school funding is always a top priority, we must also ensure support for children attending religious, charter and other types of schools, while providing special needs students with every opportunity for academic success.”

In addition to serving as the ranking member on the Senate Education Committee, Addabbo will retain his leadership roles as ranking member of both the Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs, and on the Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering. He will also continue to serve as a member of the committees on Aging, Civil Service and Pensions, Environmental Conservation, and Labor.

PHEFFER AMATO REMINDS SENIORS TO APPLY FOR SCHE EXEMPTION: Member Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-South Queens) is urging senior citizens to apply for the NYC Department of Finance Senior Citizen Homeowners’ Exemption (SCHE). The deadline to apply for fiscal year 2017/2018 is January 16, 2018. According to the city’s website, SCHE is “A property tax break for seniors who own one-, two- , or three-family homes, condominiums, or cooperative apartments.” Thanks to changes in city and state law, which Pheffer Amato voted for this past legislative session, SCHE tax breaks are now available to homeowners with a combined annual income of $58,399 or less.

“Even if you are unsure if you qualify, you can only gain by applying for SCHE. Especially with the recent maximum income increase, I urge all senior citizen homeowners to submit an application to the city as soon as possible, to ensure they receive the benefits they deserve!” Pheffer Amato said.

For more information on how to apply residents can go to the NYC Department of Finance website: www1.nyc.gov/site/finance/benefits/landlordssche.page or call the Assembly Member’s office at 718-945-9550.

TRUMP ALLOWING BANKS TO ‘REDLINE’ POOR, MINORITY NEIGHBORHOODS: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement on reports that the Trump administration will reverse a decades-old rule that protects poor and minority neighborhoods from “redlining” – a practice where banks refused to lend money in certain neighborhoods regardless of the credit or financial status of the lendee:

“During the campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump repeatedly asked black and Hispanic voters what they had to lose by sending him to the White House. We get a new answer to that question nearly every day.

“Today, we are seeing the Trump administration advocate for the return of ‘redlining,’ the odious and often racist practice where financial institutions denied services and loans to entire communities. Redlining denies Americans both civil and economic justice. It should be relegated to the history books – not a modern economy.

“The Community Reinvestment Act broke down the barriers put up by financial institutions that stopped qualified borrowers from accessing capital solely due to their zip code or race. Since its passage, thousands of low- and moderate-income families in Queens, the Bronx, and across the nation have been given the opportunity create financial security, become homeowners, or build a nest egg for their retirement.

“These critical banking regulations strengthen communities and our nation. It is absolutely imperative that the Trump administration abandons this effort and instead strengthens and expands access to capital for all credit-worthy Americans.”

HELP FOR SENIORS, DISABLED, WITH DEADLINE TO REDUCE PROPERTY

TAXES: With an upcoming deadline to realize financial savings, NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. has been informing seniors that the changes in New York City and State law, which now allow individuals 65 and older, along with disabled New Yorkers, who have an annual income of $58,399 or less, to receive savings through the Senior Citizen Homeowners’ Exemption (SCHE) or the Disabled Homeowners’ Exemption (DHE) – both of which have a deadline that’s quickly approaching.

SCHE and DHE are property tax breaks for seniors (65+) and disabled homeowners who own one-, two-, or three-family homes, condominiums, or cooperative apartments. These programs are designed to exempt 5 to 50% of the assessed value of the homes from taxation, which could save the owners hundreds of dollars.

“The SCHE and DHE exemptions will give low- to middle-income seniors and New Yorkers with disabilities a big tax break. They could help those who qualify save hundreds of dollars – or more – on their property taxes this year,” said Senator Addabbo. “If you believe you qualify, it is vital that you sign up for these benefits before the deadline and take full advantage of these tax breaks. Many seniors and disabled residents within my district should be eligible to receive one of these exemptions, and I urge everyone who can to apply.”

To apply, you must visit www.nyc.gov/sche or www.nyc.gov/dhe before the deadline of January 16, 2018.

However, if you are already receiving SCHE or DHE, you do not need to take any action. Any increases to your benefit will appear on your upcoming property tax bill – with a retroactive credit to July 1, 2017.

Seniors and people with disabilities attended the “Day of Action” on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 to apply for SCHE or DHE at one of the locations listed below.

The “Day of Action” locations in Queens:

Queens Borough Hall, 120-55 Queens Blvd, Room 200, Kew Gardens, NY 11424

Queens Majority Family Life Center, 115-15 Farmers Blvd, Saint Albans, NY 11412

For more information about SCHE, DHE, the “Day of Action,” or any of the locations, please call 311.

MALONEY VOWS TO CONTINUE FIGHTING HUMAN TRAFFICKING: Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), co-Chair and co-founder of the Human Trafficking Caucus, released the following statement on January 11 in observance of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

“It is completely unacceptable that in 2018, modern-day slavery exists anywhere in the world, but especially here in the U.S. Human trafficking is a $150 billion illegal industry, but traffickers are largely able to perpetrate their heinous crimes in the shadows and out of reach of law enforcement. Since I came to Congress, eradicating human trafficking has been a top priority for me. I am proud to have helped lead landmark legislative efforts to support survivors and provide law enforcement with resources to find and bring to justice human traffickers, pimps and johns.

“So today, on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, I reaffirm my commitment to fighting human trafficking everywhere it exists. We have made great strides in working to combat trafficking and punishing the real criminals – the traffickers and pimps who buy and sell men, women and children. But we have much more to do. We must put a stop to the impunity with which internet sites like Backpage.com have been allowed to advertise trafficking victims. We must pass the End Banking for Human Traffickers Act so that traffickers cannot use our financial institutions to launder their profits, and my Human Trafficking Fraud Enforcement Act that will provide resources to the IRS enabling the agency to target traffickers for tax evasion, much like they targeted and ultimately apprehended the mobster Al Capone.”

“I also plan to reintroduce my Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act which would require businesses to publicly disclose their policies to monitor and remove human trafficking from their supply chains.

“I promise that I will continue to fight to ensure that human trafficking, domestically and abroad, in all its forms, is finally eradicated, that perpetrators are brought to justice, and that survivors are given the assistance they need to rebuild their lives with dignity.”

CROWLEY CALLS ON DEPT OF CORRECTION TO REVISE BOOK RESTRICTIONS: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) urged the New York City Department of Correction Commissioner Cynthia Brann and New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Acting Commissioner Anthony J. Annucci to immediately revise a newly implemented rule restricting the contents of packages sent to inmates.

The rule severely limits the range of reading material available to inmates, restricting opportunities for offenders to access information that could help to advance their rehabilitation, Crowley said.

“One of the most important ways for inmates to prepare for re-entry into society is through self-guided education. For many inmates, incarceration provides a critical opportunity to reassess their lives and make thoughtful determinations about their future,” Congress Member Crowley wrote. “The city has long understood the critical role ample access to books plays in this development. While I understand the importance of limiting contraband in our prisons, I believe there are better ways to ensure the safety of inmates and employees that do not restrict delivery of material that is beneficial to inmates’ futures.”

The policy is currently in effect in three prisons (Green Haven, Greene, and Taconic) but is expected to be implemented in all New York prisons by next year.

PERALTA, QUEENS LIBRARY TEAM UP TO OFFER FREE SPANISH CLASSES: NYS Senator Jose Peralta and the Queens Library are teaming up to offer free Spanish classes for the community, a program that will be held at the Langston Hughes Community Library and Cultural Center, located in Corona. The Spanish classes for beginners will start on Thursday, January 11, at 5:30 P.M. The adults-only classes will run every Thursday for 12 weeks, until March 29.

“Learning a language is an enriching experience, since it opens the door to a whole new world. Particularly in Queens, learning a foreign language can be an amazing journey since you can practice what you learn, for example, in your neighborhood store or talking to your neighbor,” said Senator Peralta. “In the case of the Spanish classes being offered at Langston Hughes, soon you will be able to read the menu at your favorite Latino restaurant or speak Spanish while buying at your local store.”

“Learning a new language opens doors to understanding and growth, especially in New York City,” said Queens Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott. “We are grateful to Senator Peralta for funding this course and for helping Queens Library meet its mission of helping people live fuller, more informed lives.”

Students will be provided with a textbook and a workbook. Each class lasts 90 minutes, from 5:30 to 7:00 P.M. The instructor, Jabri Dionisio, is an adjunct lecturer in Spanish at Queens College and Manhattan Community College. A bilingual professional, he has extensive experience teaching Latin American Spanish. Students will learn basic grammar and conversation. Additionally, they will learn, for example, how to introduce themselves to a neighbor and start basic conversations.

Spanish for Beginners preregistration is available in-person at the Reference Desk of the library, located at 100-01 Northern Boulevard; online, or by phone at 718-651-1100.

CITY COUNCIL ANNOUNCES NEW COMMITTEE CHAIR APPOINTMENTS: NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson, along with the Rules Committee announced the following Council leadership and committee chair appointments on January 11 at City Hall:

Vallone Appointed as Chair of Committee on Economic Development: On Thursday, Council Member Paul Vallone was appointed as Chair of the New York City Council’s Committee on Economic Development. This committee is responsible for overseeing New York City’s Department of Small Business Services and the Economic Development Corporation. As Chair, Council Member Vallone will lead 12 other committee members in working to attract, retain and create jobs, encourage investment and develop economic growth strategies in the city. Their work crafting legislation and determining the city’s budget will be critical in ensuring that new development and infrastructure upgrades, capital improvements in neighborhood shopping districts and public spaces, and the revitalization of businesses are made for the benefit of all New Yorkers.

Vallone was also appointed to serve on the following City Council Committees:

• Committee on Aging

• Committee on For-Hire Vehicles

• Committee on Public Safety

• Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste

Management

• Committee on Veterans

“I am excited to begin this legislative session as Chair of the Committee on Economic Development. It is a great honor to oversee a committee that has played a substantial and integral role in the New York City budget,” said Vallone. “I look forward to working with our new Speaker and my fellow colleagues to sculpt NYCEDC’s vision to drive growth in our city and improve our quality of life. I’m also proud that the Queens delegation is once again united and strongly represented in our Speaker’s vision for the upcoming legislative session. This will be a wonderful new opportunity for District 19 to finally have a seat at the table on true economic development for the City of New York.”

Constantinides Re-appointed to Chair Council’s Environmental Protection Committee: Council Member Costa Constantinides was re-appointed by Speaker Corey Johnson as Chair of the Environmental Protection Committee. The expanded committee now has jurisdiction over the Department of Environmental Protection as well as the Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability and Office of Recovery and Resiliency. Constantinides was also named as a member of the Council’s Budget Negotiating Team, which negotiates the city’s budget with the Mayor every fiscal year.

Council Member Constantinides said, “I am excited to continue as Chair of the Council’s newly strengthened Environmental Protection Committee. Making our city greener and more environmentally friendly will remain our priority. Climate change is perhaps one of our planet’s greatest dangers and I remain committed to implementing policies that will combat its effects. I am honored that the newly expanded committee now has more members and a widened portfolio that includes our city’s recovery, resiliency, and preparedness efforts. Under this stronger committee, we will make our city more sustainable and resilient by reducing reliance on fossil fuels as well as increasing use of renewable energy.

“I am proud to have also been named a member of the Council’s Budget Negotiating Team, where we will work to ensure that our city’s budget provides adequate funding for programs and capital projects in all our neighborhoods. Thank you to Speaker Johnson for this opportunity – I look forward to working with him and my Council colleagues on a productive legislative session.”

Council Member Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the chair the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and sits on four additional committees: Parks, Transportation, For-Hire Vehicles, and Land Use, as well as the sub-committee on Zoning and Franchises. For more information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.

Koo To Chair NYC Council Committee On Technology: Council Member Peter Koo stated the following regarding his appointment as Chair of the NYC Council Committee on Technology:

“I see endless potential in the Committee on Technology, and I look forward to maximizing this important resource to bring fresh ideas and innovation to the City Council. There are many challenges facing New York City that can be addressed through technology, including a lack of high speed internet in our schools, expanding access to Wi-Fi, and ensuring a more open and transparent government. Many thanks to Speaker Johnson for committing to work with me on these important efforts.”

In addition to his chairmanship on Technology, Council Member Koo will also serve as a member on the following committees:

• Transportation

• Parks and Recreation

• Consumer Affairs

• Land Use

• Economic Development

• Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses

Lancman Appointed Chair of Committee on the Justice System: Council Member Rory I. Lancman (D-Queens) has been appointed Chair of the Committee on the Justice System, with a broad mandate to oversee the criminal and civil justice system in New York City. The committee’s jurisdiction subsumes that of the Committee on Courts & Legal Services, which Lancman previously chaired, and includes not only courts and all publicly funded criminal defense and civil legal services organizations, but also the five district attorneys and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.

Lancman was also named to the Finance Committee, the Land Use Committee, and its Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises, which reviews and makes recommendations on modifications to New York City zoning regulations, changes in zoning districts, and resolutions authorizing the city to make franchise agreements.

“An equitable and efficient justice system is the cornerstone of civil society, and now more than ever New York City’s criminal and civil legal system deserves close scrutiny and serious reform,” said Lancman. “As Chair of the Committee on the Justice System, I look forward to working with the Mayor, our district attorneys, public defenders and civil legal services providers, and the Office of Court Administration to make our justice system fairer, more transparent, more efficient and more accountable.”

The Committee on the Justice System will build on the accomplishments of the previously constituted Committee on Courts & Legal Services, which held hearings and prodded reform on such issues as: ICE enforcement activity in the courts, the effectiveness of the city’s domestic violence courts, legal services available to low-wage workers, the process of Mayoral judicial appointments, the urgent need to reform our bail system, evaluating the progress of Justice Reboot, court accessibility, and the speedy trial crisis.

CROWLEY CALLS ON ICE TO RELEASE IMMIGRANT RIGHTS ACTIVIST: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement after ICE detained Ravi Ragbir, an immigrant rights activist and Executive Director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of NYC:

“Ravi is an acclaimed community leader, a loving father, and a steadfast immigrant rights activist. His detention is entirely unwarranted and reflects the Trump administration’s predatory behavior in New York City and across the country. Ravi must be released immediately.”

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