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Queens Chronicle

Albany session over; pols call it productive

Pre-K funding, budgets are hailed; ethics reform, women’s bills fall

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Posted: Thursday, June 26, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:20 am, Thu Jul 3, 2014.

The New York State Legislature wrapped up formal business for the year last Thursday, and elected officials from Queens, chosen in a random sample, are characterizing the session as an overall success.

“The short answer is yes,” Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) said, starting with one of the basics.

“We passed an on-time budget for the fourth straight time,” he said. “And it was a good budget.”

Addabbo said funding universal pre-K was a major accomplishment. Keeping on the theme of education the senator fully supported the two-year delay on full implementation of Common Core standards.

“Take some time and do it right,” he said.

Addabbo and Assemblyman Bill Scarborough (D-Jamaica) liked new laws reducing the speed limits in New York City frmo 30 to 25 miles per hour on most roads.

Scarborough, as chairman of the Small Business Committee, said it was a productive session, with numerous new measures he feels will be particularly useful in his Southeast Queens District.

“We’re giving support jobs for 16-to-24-year-olds by passing tax credits for the businesses that hire them,” Scarborough said.

Veterans, he said, will benefit from new preference incentives in state contracts.

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), the newest member of the Independent Democratic Conference, credited the IDC with an instrumental role in “delivering much of the needed results” for New York’s working families.

Among those listed in a statement issued by his office were universal pre-K, tax breaks for renters and a handful of senior citizen benefits.

The office of Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) said he expected Gov. Cuomo to sign legislation he wrote authorizing a study of increases statewide in the price of electricity and natural gas, slamming residents and businesses.

While Democrats had the numerical majority in the Senate, the IDC has a power-sharing agreement with Senate Republicans.

A spokesman for GOP Senate Leader Dean Skelos (R-Nassau) also cited the on-time budget and voluntary compliance with a 2 percent spending cap as being productive. He and Addabbo also praised the passage of more than 10 laws aimed at curbing the resurgent heroin abuse problem in the state.

A Senate vote back in March killed legislation to establish a state Dream Act for illegal aliens living in the state, and at least temporarily dashed the hopes of many legislators and their constituents.

All legislators contacted by the Chronicle admitted to other disappointments,

Scarborough thought this was the year Albany would pass a more comprehensive law protecting women’s rights than ultimately made it through the process.

“There’s more work to do,” he said.

That, to the assemblyman, also means getting his long-sought flooding control bills through the Senate, as well as removing some of the constraints police have in searching in the early stages for missing persons.

“If you’re between 21 and 64, they assume that you left voluntarily,” Scarborough said.

Addabbo was disappointed that campaign finance reform failed again.

“I thought we had a shot,” he said.

The senator also would like to take another crack in the future at passing private school tuition tax relief.

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